Guitarist Tony Fate first came to prominence as the slinger/main songwriter for the asskicking rock 'n' soul band the BELLRAYS; Half Virgin is his first statement of purpose since leaving the ranks. It's a collection of 21 brief instrumentals and sketches, one instrument per track, most of them sounding improvised. Given Fate's well-known jazz influences, you might expect these pieces to blaze out into the wilderness as quickly as possible. But Fate's skilled fingers are matched only by his finely honed musical instincts, and he keeps the songs tight and tuneful. Variety is also his watchword - from the bluesy "My Car Broke Down," the melancholy "The Day I Met the Devil" and the steely "Too Bad I Hate Ya" to the Eastern-tinged "Sakura Explosion," the rocking "Your Roadhouse is My Roadhouse" and the Doc Watsonized "The Day Before My Birthday," Fate strides confidently down several stylistic roads and ends the journey well every time. -Michaei Toland/ The Big Takeover (Vital Gesture) This CD of solo instrumentals kind of reminds me of that Steve Martin record where half the album is him doing comedy and half is straightforward bluegrass banjo music. This is in part because 'Half Virgin' opens with two ace finger-pickin' old timey barnburners (the best tracks here) but also because hearing these spare, solo instrumental tracks from a man who is synonymous with crunching, balls to the wall guitar solos is as odd as hearing the Wild and Crazy Guy get all folksy. The make or break point that determines if you could be a Bellrays fan was always love or hate of nasty garage rawk guitar solos, so hearing all this delightfully dainty stuff from the Bellrays (and Grey Spikes and Reactors and a bunch of other bands) guitar slinger is a surprise treat. This disc features acoustic guitar, mandolin (played in a florid Spanish style), some slide stuff that sounds almost like Hawaiian slack, keyboard that sounds like Korla Pandit gigging at Pee Wee's Playhouse, and only one fuzzy rock tune out of 21. At times the rudimentary references to ethnic music styles borders on hokey, but for the most part this is a tremendously pleasant listen. Play this for your lady and she won't be half anything for long! - Waymon Tinsdale/ Roctober.