It takes a special player to put out a record of guitar and band instrumentals and make it memorable. Guitarist Shane Theriot keeps his listeners paying attention on Dirty Power. Theriot’s background as guitar slinger for everyone from the Neville Brothers to Madeleine Peyroux to Idris Muhammad shows he has the variety and chops to make a rocking set of tunes. Theriot varies his tone and approach on each selection, but never goes so far afield that listeners fail to follow him. This conceptual continuity includes wah-wah pedal and horn-like lines meshing with the saxophone and trumpet on “Buckshot,” funky leads on “Dirty Power,” and the clean chords of “Old Men.” Theriot never noodles on these songs; he’s always saying something with his guitar.
Another reason the album works is that Theriot has assembled a serious band of backing players who sound as committed to the material as he does. This includes keyboardists Johnny Neel and David Torkanowsky, drummers Jim Keltner, Zigaboo Modeliste, and Doug Belote, and Hutch Hutchinson on bass. The band is tight on all the cuts here and plays varieties of southern funk, northern soul, and jazz fusion that keep to a coherent tone and sequence. At times, the record harkens back to Joe Satriani guitar pieces or Jeff Beck’s fantastic instrumental records from the 1970s. Like those records, Theriot has something to say and the way he says it with his guitar makes for some great conversations.