Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!
The most surprising thing about Brian Setzer’s first all-instrumental recording is that it’s taken him this long to try it. From his debut with the Stray Cats three decades ago, Setzer has consistently proven his six-string dexterity, applying his economical but vigorous playing primarily to rockabilly and neo-big-band swing. While the guitar is firmly front and center on this new set, Setzer’s lyricism is relegated to his picking as he traverses a gamut of roots styles. In the opening “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Setzer’s spin doesn’t call to mind author Bill Monroe or interpreter Elvis so much as Les Paul, and his “Be-Bop-A-Lula” passes over Gene Vincent for inspiration, going instead to legendary country pickers Roy Clark, Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Working in a trio with upright bassist Johnny Hatton and drummer Noah Levy, Setzer also burns on his own original tunes, from the lounge-y “Intermission” to the surf-crazy “Hot Love.” –Jeff Tamarkin