Although Hitting the Ground is the first solo album from Violent Femmes stalwart Gordon Gano, its true stars are the guest vocalists. Gano wrote these songs for David Moore's film Hitting the Ground, but he cedes the spotlight to a stellar list of compatriots. PJ Harvey, John Cale, Lou Reed, They Might Be Giants, and Frank Black are all here, and it's amazing how well each song matches the singer. "Don't Pretend" features only Cale's stentorian baritone and commanding piano; it would sound at home on Cale's Paris 1919. Similarly, the doo-wop parody "Darlin' Allison" is all They Might Be Giants, in typical loopy, goofy form. Most tracks, however, build on Gano's rhythmic, rocking guitar lines. PJ Harvey sings the title track as if she's channeling a young Patti Smith, contributing unbridled energy and a wild guitar solo. Frank Black launches into "Run" with unhinged abandon. Lou Reed talk-sings the funny, funky "Catch 'Em in the Act," which could be an outtake from his album New Sensations. Mary Lou Lord, Linda Perry, and Gano's sister Cynthia Gayneau sing more serious ballads, and Gano himself sings three tracks, including a sarcastic duet with Martha Wainwright (Rufus's sister, Loudon's daughter). Hitting the Ground is a compendium of great vocal performances, but it's also a testament to Gordon Gano's versatile songwriting.