WALTER TROUT SURVIVOR BLUES
Listening to Walter Trout’s latest album without paying too much attention and you’ll hear Trout firing through familiar sounding blues riffs and licks in an album that has perennial themes and unbounded energy. Scratch a little further, and you’ll realise that these are not Trout originals but a collection of lesser known blues songs re-imagined in Trout's inimitable style. The album takes its name from the musicians on the record and their battles with addiction, health scares and subsequent recovery.
Their zest for life stands proudly on this album as the music serves as a conduit for their healing. Although Trout is mindful to steer clear of Blues tropes, he largely succeeded thanks to the versatility of the band. Their clean precision and meaty sound steers the album towards heavier climbs rather than the music's laid back blues origins. The band mostly recorded the album live, allowing each of the musicians to have freedom and space to create the music in a studio environment. This organic feel also contributes to the album's fluidity.
A cover of cult hero Jimmy Dawkins’ Me and my Guitar and the Blues opens the album. Dawkins was one of Trout's early influences and Trout's skill brings the track up to date with a modern musical lilt. It’s not the only contemporary thread on the album. Nature’s Disappearing is a nod to his tenure in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and thirty odd years on the song's message is more urgent than before. Sunnyland Slim’s Be Careful How You Vote is a cautionary tale of the Ballot box and Women Don’t Lie (feat Sugarray Rayford), is a funky reworking of the Luther Johnson original that is the instant standout on this album.
The survivor tag is one that Trout and his conspirators wear with pride. But they have not only battled demons of their own, but the message of the album is also to carry the genre of blues forward: its survival depends on people like Trout offering a link from the past, but also paving the way for future generations of blues fans.
Groupie rating 3/5