Andy Dufresne said it best: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Walter Trout was helplessly engaged in the latter until a liver transplant saved his life in 2014, but since then he’s pursued the former with a ceaseless vigour. The blues-rock titan has grabbed his second chance with both hands and ‘We’re All In This Together’ finds him, with a little help from a star-studded cast of friends, continuing to do so.
Following 2015’s ‘Battle Scars’, an autobiographical work that recalled the guitarist’s illness, with a similarly themed release was never on the cards. It’s time to move forwards and, with that cathartic recording in his rear view mirror, Trout’s clearly having a ball on this unofficial sequel to 2006’s similarly guest-heavy ‘Full Circle’.
If names like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa, Sonny Landreth, Warren Haynes, John Mayall, Eric Gales, Charlie Musselwhite and Robben Ford don’t pique your interest, you’re definitely in the wrong place.
Guesting on a stylistic smorgasbord of blues-based songs Trout wrote specifically for their particular skillsets, each musician adds their own inimitable spark to some sublime compositions.
Twelve bar stomper Gonna Hurt Like Hell typifies the irrepressible feelgood factor that makes this a very different listen to ‘Battle Scars’. Backed by Shepherd, whose playing is so flammable he could start a fire on a lake, it’s a cracking way to begin. Ain’t Going Back follows and is even better, strutting its boogying stuff as Landreth demonstrates why his graceful slide articulation would shame even the finest public speaker.
Musselwhite, meanwhile, adds delectable harmonica to the bluesy payback of The Other Side of the Pillow and Edgar Wright’s saxophone deepens the soulful vibe of She Steals My Heart Away. Such variety makes this record a very dynamic listen, with Gales buoying the funky strains of Somebody’s Goin’ Down and Randy Bachman rocking up Got Nothin’ Left. Trout’s son, Jon, also adds guitar and impressive vocals to the Santana-esque Do You Still See Me At All.
It’s also ironic that the standout song here isn’t actually a blues number. Blackbird is a vintage southern rocker about emerging from darker days, with tasty six-string lines from Mike Zito enhancing its palpable Allman Brothers feel. Dedicated guitar geeks, in fact, will love hearing how such revered fretboard masters play together and complement each other’s work. The interaction between Trout and Haynes on The Sky Is Crying, the only cover here, is a mesmerising case in point as the Gov’t Mule man tastefully builds his solo before Trout blazes away. The two unite for a wonderful, conversational climax.
You’d never guess the guest musicians' parts were, via the miracles of modern technology, recorded from afar as their interplay is seamless throughout. The one exception is the title track, with Bonamassa insisting on playing with Trout and his band to ramp up the interactive energy and deliver some fizzing lead duels. It brings a fine end to an album that, fittingly, boasts many different shades of blues.