Daryl Stuermer

InsideOut Music, 2007


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Chances are good that you’ve heard Daryl Stuermer play before, whether you know it or not.

Moving on from an early stint in Jean-Luc Ponty’s band, beginning in 1978 Stuermer became the touring guitarist for Genesis, a title he still technically holds today, even if the band has been mostly inactive since 1992. From 1981 through the early 2000s, he was also a mainstay in Phil Collins’ solo band, even co-composing several songs with Collins. In the meantime he’s guested as a session player on albums by Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Philip Bailey, Frida and Joan Armatrading, among others.

I remember picking up Stuermer’s 1987 solo debut Steppin’ Out and enjoying it quite a bit at the time. The man has serious chops, and while the slick production and electronic keyboards on the album didn’t age particularly well—damn you, 1980s—overall it was an impressive debut, focusing on Stuermer’s lead guitar stylings in a heavy fusion setting.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On a whim I recently picked up Stuermer’s 2007 solo album GO!, eager to hear how his solo style has developed since Steppin’ Out. And therein lies the problem; it hasn’t. The production on this album sounds eerily like the production on Steppin’ Out from 1987, and more or less, so does the music. It’s skillfully performed and pristinely produced, but doesn’t show a lot of growth or imagination.

It’s also, for lack of a better word, very samey. The first time through I didn’t even notice when opener “Striker” ended and second track “Masala Mantra” began; they sound that similar. “Greenlight” punches up the tempo and delivers a nice catchy main riff / chorus with the organ doubling the melody behind him, though it repeats too much.

“Dream In Blue” is a pleasant change of pace, riding a suitably dreamy blues groove. Then “Breaking Point” goes on the attack again without making a big impression. It’s fine in its own way—clean and energetic and lively—it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table. “Heavy Heart” presents a big, rather Collins-ish (i.e. eminently tasteful and somewhat predictable) ballad before the album closes out with a trio of faster tracks, “Meltdown,” “The Archer” and “Omnibus.”

The liner notes indicate GO! was intended to showcase the rockier side of Stuermer’s playing, but it’s hard to detect a lot of difference between this album and Steppin’ Out 20 years before. The guy is a hell of a player, delivering lines that are fast and fluid and often melodic, but the music lacks variety or flair; on track after track he employs the same clean, sharp guitar tone over the same bed of anonymous fusion-y synth and rhythm section sounds. The results are big and shiny and professional and inescapably bland.

In sum, GO! might be the best argument for 30-second previews on iTunes that I’ve ever heard, in that once you’ve invested those 30 seconds, you’ll know what 90 percent of this album sounds like. It’s a collection of tracks that offers the listener plenty of reasons to respect Stuermer’s considerable skills on the fretboard, but very few to care about the music he’s making.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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