Brian Setzer still pickin’ and grinnin’
“Setzer Goes Instru-Mental!” shows off Brian Setzer’s virtuostic versatility. The album—which came out Tuesday—is the first one since 2010’s “Christmas Comes Alive!”
It opens with a beautiful rock-a-billy rendition of “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Setzer lets on right away that he has some Buchanan-esque pedal steel lines up his sleeve. The album continues with Setzer showing an array of jazz, bluegrass and bluesy-rock styles.
“Cherokee” is somewhere in between Chet Atkins and Tal Farlow and swings with charm. “Earl’s Breakdown” shows Setzer has assimilated some of Earl Scruggs’ banjo style as well. Setzer overlays jazz guitar with bluegrass banjo and is well-versed at both.
“Far Noir East” sounds frighteningly similar to “Harlem Nocturne” (the Mike Hammer theme) and contains interplay between Setzer and himself on acoustic and electric that sounds like two personalities.
“Intermission” has a 1940s Benny Goodman feel with an excellent vibraphone presence and Charlie Christian style. “Go Go Godzilla” is one of Setzer’s own that stands out on the album. The heavy 1950s-swamp style makes it a perfect cruising song.
Considering Setzer’s prowess on the instrument it seems incredible that in his 31 years of recording he has never had an instrumental album, but it was worth the wait.
“Setzer Goes Instru-Mental!” is a lyrical masterpiece. Although there is no singing, Setzer’s guitar speaks with authority and finesse. The guitarists of today could learn a lot from this 51-year-old who rocks harder than most 20-somethings.