Brian Setzer

Songs from Lonely Avenue

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Three decades into his career, Brian Setzer's sound is so well-established that his only trump card lies in formal aesthetic experiments, and he pulls out a doozy with 2009's Songs from Lonely Avenue. Far from being a Doc Pomus tribute album, Songs from Lonely Avenue is a "soundtrack to an unwritten film," an album equally inspired by '50s film noirs, R&B, and rock & roll, a conceptual stroll through smoky clubs and dimly lit back alleys. There are no surprising sounds here -- Setzer hauls out his jump blues and slow-crawling ballads -- but that doesn't mean this is tired: Setzer is reinvigorated by his concept, turning in his first collection of all-original material in his entire career. Although the songs are essentially vehicles for the concept, the entirety of Songs from Lonely Avenue shows Setzer to be a master of mood, maybe not digging too far underneath the surface, but creating a record that is an engaging slice of noir fantasia.

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