02 June 2014 (released)
04 May 2014
This is a bittersweet review because as I write it Walter Trout is lying in hospital waiting for a new liver while the Blues world he has touched and mentored for the last 25 years are holding benefits for him and praying for him to pull through. Trout has been one of the most electric and larger than life characters on the Blues circuit for years – from his days with John Mayall and through 25 years as a solo artist and he has made more of the music that I listen to every day than any other artist than I can think of. Meeting him after a gig at London’s Astoria 2 a few years ago remains one of my treasured memories.
Amazingly this is actually a superb piece of kick-ass Blues Rock – he may be dyin’ but there’s life in him yet!
The album was recorded through 2013 and the beginning of 2014 and the subject matter clearly touches on his awareness of his condition from the opener ‘Wastin’ Away’ and on. 10 tracks are Walter Trout originals and one was written for him by John Mayall as well as a cover of J.B. Lenoir’s ‘The Whale’.
Enough preamble – is this worth investing money on? Remarkably YES! The vocal may not have the buffalo bellow of old but his guitar is still red hot and he rocks like a demon on numbers like ‘Take A Little Time’ while ‘The Bottom Of The River’ is dark and moody and features Trout on a Resonator telling of a man drowning and seeing all the good things in his life pulling him back from the dead.
‘Wastin’ Away’ is a bellow of defiance – even though his body is failing him he will not go quietly of easily.
One of my personal favourites is ‘Willie’ – a stormer in the grand tradition of Walter Trout with rolling Hammond and stomping rhythm alongside a howling harp that leads into ‘Mayall’s Piano Boogie’, a one take jam around John Mayall playing boogie piano live in the studio.
It would be so easy to be maudlin and depressed about this album – the one that was supposed to be a celebration of 25 years as a solo performer – but I can’t. The music is great and the emotive content massive. This is an album by a man who will fight to the very end and who will see the friends and artists he has grown standing up and cheering for him.
"To play my music for people has become even more important to me. When I think about looking out into the crowds of people and connecting with everyone on a soul level, and sharing the experience of music with them, this is what keeps me fighting to get back: My family and my music is my lifeline. These days, it means more to me than ever before."
I can’t pretend to review this impartially because Trout has been music that I’ve loved for years but this album really will be one that I go back to time and again because it is simply excellent.