Solo albums by hotshot electric guitarists can be a mixed bag. Some stand out as works of art that showcase the player as an individual artist; others are merely a platform for shameless pyrotechnic wankery. Fortunately, Guitaresqe by Boston-area guitarist Tony Savarino fits squarely in the first category.
Savarino’s distinguished resume includes gigs with numerous Beantown headliners, in addition to studio work and teaching. It’s therefore not surprising he has chops galore; however, Guitaresque reveals that he also has plenty of taste to accompany all that technique. Moreover, while steeped in the classic guitar sounds of the 1950s and 60s, he is clearly after his own sound and stylistic path.
Guitaresque covers quite a bit of ground, from country to jazz to surf rock, revealing shades of Danny Gatton, Hank Garland, and The Ventures. My favorite track is a cover of “Walk, Don’t Run” that echoes Chet Atkins in the intro, and then segues into a killer organ jazz workout. “When in Doubt (Dress in Black)” and “Moonshine” are chicken pickin’ barn burners that would do Don Rich and Roy Nichols proud. The two halves of the album are even bridged by post-rock atmospherics via “By Way of Amarillo.” Somehow, this stylistic mashup all comes together in a surprisingly coherent manner, a testament to both Tony’s versatility and his clarity of musical vision. A thoroughly enjoyable disc indeed, and a great example of what instrumental guitar albums should aspire to achieve.