Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Joe Louis Walker - Playin' Dirty (JSP, 2006)

Guitarist and singer Joe Louis Walker is one of the most consistently excellent blues musicians on the scene today. A veteran of both blues and gospel groups, Walker's music explores a wide range of blues styles from soul to gutbucket and everything in between. Walker's most recent CD on the English JSP label is a small group affair... Unfortunately, since I bought the album on iTunes I didn't get any liner notes and I can't find a list of the sidemen anywhere. Suffice it to say that Walker is back by bass and drums and occasionally adds some piano and harmonica to the mix. " Nobody Wants To Know Ya" takes a familiar blues refrain and jacks it up with Walkers scalding guitar and he sings with deep conviction. "Barefoot " invites everybody to get down and dance with a jumpin' happy tune and he keeps the tempo up with "I Got Loaded." While I don't agree with the sentiment of the song, I must admit that the band is cookin'. "Who's Been Here" changes pace to put things in a more traditional vein adding some blues harp to Walker's always impressive slide guitar.

The pace slows as the band goes way down in the alley with "A Woman Needs To Be Loved" which is a great feature for the man's deep gospel drenched vocals. "Pickin' The Blues" adds some rolling and rippling piano to the mix for a killer instrumental which is one of the highpoints of the album. The bump 'n' grind of "Ain't Nice" follows before the chest thumping testifyin' of "Juicy Fruit" where the band hits a smokin' roadhouse groove led by some great guitar. Things wind down with the band taking a crack at some greasy rockabilly-blues on "I'm Ready" and finish up with the acoustic "From the Projects to Paris," an acoustic tune that checks "When the Saints Go Marching In" before finding its own singular groove. Walker hits yet another home run here with one of the most completely satisfying CDs of the year so far. Blues fans can't miss with this one, there just isn't a bad song on it.

Send comments to: Tim