Guitarist Scott Metzger’s Solo Debut ‘Too Close to Reason’ Is an Impressive Acoustic Tapestry

Stylistically, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead guitarist Scott Metzger's solo acoustic album, Too Close to Reason, covers a lot of territory in what he calls his “sonic landscapes.”
Scott Metzger with acoustic guitar

Brooklyn-based guitarist Scott Metzger is widely respected as a versatile electric guitarist who seems to fit well into any band or situation he’s plugged into no matter what the style. Nationally, he’s best known as a guitarist and singer (along with Tom Hamilton) for the increasingly popular and fabulously inventive Grateful Dead jam band Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD). Like so many musicians, the pandemic left Metzger without gigs and plenty of time on his hands, so he put some of it to very good use making this invigorating solo album of original acoustic guitar instrumentals, most featuring two or three layered guitar tracks. (Only one tune, “Only Child,” features an outside player—violinist Katie Jacoby, who happens to be his wife and another NY music fixture.) Before he recorded the album, Metzger bought the beat-up but wonderful-sounding 1955 Martin 000-18 heard throughout.


Scott Metzger's Too Close to Reason album cover
Scott Metzger’s Too Close to Reason

Stylistically, Too Close to Reason covers a lot of territory in what Metzger calls his “sonic landscapes.” There’s the bouncy, melodic, flatpicking showcase “Don’t Be a Stranger”; the moody, jazz-tinged “Talk Like That,” sounding like it could be part of a film noir soundtrack; the beautiful two-part “Dream Room,” with its hypnotic tambura drone and Indian shadings; the Spanish-influenced “Cafe Hidalgo”; the trippy, electronically altered “Appropriate Wattage”; the slightly Kottke-esque “Asking for a Friend,” which features an exciting JRAD-like crescendo; the lilting “Waltz for Beverly”; and more. For me, the only misstep is the cacophonous, freeform “Damage,” a space jam (in Dead parlance) that feels out of place. The rest is fantastic.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Blair Jackson
Blair Jackson

Blair Jackson is the author of the definitive biography Garcia: An American Life and was senior editor at Acoustic Guitar before retiring in 2023.

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