Review by Monty Sewell for MPM
Walter Trout is undeniably one of the favourite characters on the blues scene. Tremendously skilled, insatiably passionate and quite frankly incapable of being a past time, Trout has been a true staple point of the blues for the past 50 years. The man simply will not quit. Not to say that we’re complaining. Not. One. bit.
This year he releases his 30th solo effort album ‘Ride’ on Provogue /Mascot Label Group. Not only is it yet another double digit milepost, it also marks nine years since Trout was left brain damaged after cirrhosis of the liver required him to have a liver transplant. Left not being able to walk, talk or remember how to play even a simple open chord on the guitar it was unsure what would be left of Trouts career or even his sense of self.
But five albums and a whole lot of determined re-learning later and Trout is more than he has ever been before in both music and himself. As we come up to a decade since Trouts time in hospital and subsequently in recovery, it feels like common knowledge that his post operation fortitude was not just to prove to the world that he could continue as he had, but because whatever makes him play like he does lingers in his bones refusing to be rid of.
The record opens with first single released earlier this year, ‘Ghosts’. An unsurprisingly well contrived track listing, the opener places its listener into immediate comfortability. With Johnny Griparic on bass, Michael Leasure on drums and Teddy ‘Zig Zag’ Andreadis on keys Trout’s aptitude for the best is taken that much further as their combined backlog of expertise creates something truly first rate.
The albums title track, ‘Ride’ is a harmonica laden good time gander. Trout always makes good use of his keyboardists and particularly in this number the piano bounce shadows his guitar throughout, kicking the composition up a few notches bringing it to the front of other fast paced blues offerings.
‘Follow You Back Home’ is the sonnet amongst the wonderful chaos that surrounds. The thing about Walter Trout is he likes to have fun, he likes to have a good time to ensure his audience is also thoroughly entertained. But in these drop down moments it’s a reminder that his passion swings both ways in equal measure. He can be the life of the party but also the heart of his delicate vulnerabilities. Beautifully emotive.
‘So Many Sad Goodbye’s’ and ‘High is Low’ are the creme de la creme of mid-tempo blues splendour. Trouts vocals on the latter are especially good. It’s the kind of husky outpour that reminds us why sometimes the classic arrangements are the best.
Last single released from the album, ‘Waiting For The Dawn’ demonstrates Trouts never-lacking guitar skill set. Almost every lyric bar is followed by a solo interlude before more spacious time segments are given to just Trouts playing.
As we move into the second half of the album we’re blessed with Trout signature protean ways. Personally I think the brilliant thing about Trout is his ability to give each song on his many albums a completely different feel. The blues can only be done a certain amount of ways but it’s with layered production and attention to detail that he succeeds in doing just that.
‘Better Day’s Ahead’ is a real heavy set whisky in hand blues number whether ‘The Fertile Soil’ dips its toes into country territory whilst ‘I Worry Too Much’ stands out with its funky backbone. Contrary to its title, ‘I Worry Too Much’ is a carefree ride with a gorgeous chord progression under its most prominent solo that grabs and grips onto your ears, “I worry about my music, is it really any good? I wouldn’t do it any different, even if I could!”
Going off of that previous thought, 10th track ‘Leave It All Behind’ brings in the brass action. Half a minute in and all I want to do is throws on that polka dot dress and head down to the best swing club in town.
Having seen Trout play a phenomenal show down in London a short while ago, songs like this take me back to watching him and his band have the best time onstage and in turn, allow the audience to do the same. Though the blues can have a slightly sombre overcast on its beautiful but dour air, Walter Trout completely dispels any notion that this defines the genre. If you want a good time, Walter Trout is the way to go.
On the final leg of the albums journey we have ‘Hey Mama’ before the penultimate ‘Destiny’. It can’t be ignored that Trout is a master of procuring his albums into stories with each song lending itself as a chapter within. ‘Hey Mama’ feels much like the reconciliation following the last good time blast before ‘Destiny’ acts as the end of night credits rolling soother.
From start to finish ‘Ride’ is undeniably one of Walter Trouts best offerings. In the space of twelve songs he excites us, energises us, delivers to us and breaks our hearts before piecing them back together. A true class act with a contagious thirst for the fun in life. If you haven’t seen him live, you must. But only after you go and get your hands on a copy of the album when released.
- Follow You Back Home
- So Many Sad Goodbyes
- High Is Low
- Waiting For The Dawn
- Better Days Ahead
- Fertile Soil
- I Worry Too Much
- Leave It All Behind
- Hey Mama
UK Tour Dates
Tickets are available from here.
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