The twangmeister whose glorious guitar licks graced many a fine tune by Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen all those years ago, Kirchen hasn’t let the greying of temples or whiskers diminish his good-rockin’ ardour. He may be pushing 60, but his new album shows he can still cut it like a down-home country rockabilly hound a third of his age.
Hammer… finds him keeping company with Nick Lowe and his touring band The Impossible Birds – all upbeat vibes and effortless swagger. The self-penned title track is a joke-filled tribute to the birth of the electric guitar, while Get A Little Goner is a hilarious plea to an ex-lover to leave faster than she’s threatening to. When Kirchen gets mellow, as on Soul Cruising (which Nick Lowe used as a set opener more than 20 years ago), it’s the most seductive sound imaginable.
Shuffling between his own tunes and smart covers (Arthur Alexander’s If It’s Really Got To Be This Way, a slowed-down’n’sleazy Devil With The Blue Dress), Kirchen breathes new life into traditional rock and country, and mines the same seams of Southern soul as Dan Penn or Spencer Oldham. He oozes charm, self-effacing wit and six strings of strumtastic majesty.