Saturday, October 03, 2009

Joe Louis Walker - Between a Rock and the Blues (Stony Plain, 2009)

Veteran blues guitarist and singer Joe Louis Walker's latest album finds him in excellent form, leading a band straw-bossed by producer and fellow guitarist Duke Robillard, along with Bruce Katz on keyboards, Jesse Williams on bass, Mark Teixeira on drums, Doug James on saxophones, Carl Querfurth on trombone and Sugar Ray Norcia on harmonica and a guest appearance by guitarist Robin Eubanks. Walker melds deep blues with soulful R&B like few others and this album is a fine addition to his catalog. Highlights include the torrid uptempo "Eyes Like a Cat" and the very exciting "If There's a Heaven" where Walker makes good use of his background as a gospel singer in the vocal, but never lets people forget that he's a stone bluesman as well with a righteous guitar solo. He explores some topical blues on the recession themed "Way Too Expensive" that even includes a nice swipe at a former American president and his propensity to waste blood and treasure for no discernible gain. There are a few nice down in the alley slow blues as well, "Blackjack" originally written by Ray Charles is a gambling blues about love and loss that is sung with heart rendering poignancy by Walker. Same for the broken hearted blues "Hallways" which lets the band stretch out into a deep soulful slow groove. Continuing a trend from his last few albums, Walker finishes on acoustic guitar and harmonica on "Send You Back," a nice traditional sounding back porch blues. This is another fine album from Joe Louis Walker, who is one of the most consistently brilliant bluesmen performing right now. With a deep soulful voice and strong supple guitar work, Walker is the complete package, and this album should make blues fans very happy.
Between A Rock And The Blues -

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