Acoustic guitar virtuoso Darrin Kobetich has traveled quite a few miles –– both figuratively and literally –– since he first mixed folk and bluegrass with his metal back in the early aughts as a member of Amillion Pounds. Starting out as a weekly Friday evening happy-hour ritual at the late, lamented Wreck Room, his solo act has become a fixture at Fred’s Texas Café and Hip Pocket Theatre, and he’s toured all over Texas, Colorado, and Louisiana.
His playing has evolved as well. Proceeding from a foundation of Zep III-era Jimmy Page, 6 & 12 String Guitar-era Leo Kottke, and Breakfast in the Field-era Michael Hedges, he has incorporated more ragtime and old-timey influences to his blend of breakdowns, blues, and raga. For proof, see his new disc, Songs for a Muse Meant, specifically the opener, “In the Fort” (the title refers to Fred’s fenced-in patio). Two other cuts, “That Day” and “Eyes For Miles,” roll like lazy rivers, conjuring images of evenings spent around Kerrville campfires, and rank among the loveliest pieces their author has ever recorded. Other tunes (like the meandering “Quiet in the Valley” and the 12-string showcase “One Night in Niwot”) feature surprising tonal and rhythmic shifts. The flatpicked “Blurred Vision” charges ahead with a demented Eastern European vibe, while “Similar Creatures” employs an unusual percussive attack and atonal sounds.
A home recording of exceptional presence and clarity, Songs for a Muse Meant places its creator in the first rank of contemporary practitioners of the solo guitarist’s art. — Ken Shimamoto