September 1st, 2017
Walter Trout’s medical traumas have been well publicized over the last few years – his liver failure and eventual transplant and his own musical diary of the darkest and lightest points of it all in his last album ‘Battle Scars’ – one of the strongest and most emotive albums he has ever released.
This album shows another and very different side of Trout. 14 tracks performed with, many of the Blues musicians who supported him emotionally through his career.
Walter Trout has long had a ‘signature’ sound – Blues rock, loaded with commitment and that drawling gruff voice – instantly recognizable. Here he is playing with guys who, in their own way, are equally recognizable but the result isn’t a clash of styles as much of as a melding of talents to create some incredible music.
The list of musicians is ridiculous – it includes Joe Bonamassa, Charlie Musselwhite, Sonny Landreth, John Mayall …. a list of the best and brightest talents in Blues today and somehow the album is still a pure Walter Trout album – maybe one of his best.
He kicks off with ‘Gonna Hurt Like Hell’ featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd. A rollicking Blues-rock boogie with Shepherds guitar and Trout’s vocals perfectly synced. One of thise tracks that have got to be a mainstay of a live set – you can imagine the crowd partying as the band just keeps the groove going on and on.
I’ve been a great fan of Charlie Musselwhite for years and his harp on ‘The Other Side Of The Pillow’ has that wonderfully haunting howl he is best known for. Trout’s guitar solo is exquisite.
Warren Haynes joins in on a fabulous version of ‘The Sky Is Crying’ which features a superb guitar conversation/duel between Haynes and Trout. Amazingly Trout recorded his parts with his band of Sammy Avila (keys), Mike Leasure (drums) & Johnny Griparic (bass), Haynes recorded his parts in another studio and sent them in – says Trout “if you listen to the Warren Haynes Track, when we get into that guitar conversation on the end – it sounds like we’re looking each other in the face y’know”.
Eric Gales is called in for ‘Somebody Goin’ Down’ and their vocals – alternating verses – seem perfectly aligned.
One of my favourites here is the number featuring John Mayall – ‘Blues For Jimmy T’. Mayall’s harp is completely different in style to Musselwhite but on a slow acoustic Blues there probably is no better. Trout was picked up by Mayall and has always been proud of being in the Bluesbreakers and the two of them work together seamlessly.
The album is superb. Walter Trout healthy and enjoying playing with some of the greatest musicians in the world today. “I’m 66 years old” says Trout “but I feel like I’m in the best days of my life right now. I feel better than I have in years physically, I have more energy. I have a whole different appreciation of being alive, of the world of my family of my career. I want life to be exciting and celebratory. I want to dig in. I want to grab life by the balls y’know …?”