25 January 2019 (released)
15 December 2018
Walter Trout is at the point in his life where he is – in his own words - “My career is going great. My kids are doing great. My wife and I are madly in love. I’m the most healthy I’ve ever been. So I haven’t just survived. Right now, I’m in the best time of my life…”
So what would you expect from the man? What I didn’t expect was an album of Blues covers and thankfully this is no set of the standard Blues classics but rather a collection of songs by obscure artists or songs that are too esoteric to be in the mainstream. Every song here has a tale to tell of the artist who wrote it, many of whom are lost over the years.
The opening track is ‘Me, My Guitar and the Blues’ – Trout says of it: “Jimmy Dawkins was a Chicago bluesman who’s never really got the recognition he deserved. That is an iconic, classic blues song. The last line – ‘Since you left me, all I have left is me, my guitar and the blues’ – is one of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard in my life and I start crying just saying it. Jimmy played a five minor chord where you least expect it, so we did it pretty close to his original. And my wife thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” And that pretty well sets the tone for the whole album – the songs are as much survivors as Trout himself.
If I’m listening to Walter Trout I want to listen to his unique vocals and his guitar and the way that he has applied himself to these songs, bringing them into his style and making them relevant to today as well as when they were written is remarkable.
The whole thing was recorded live in Robbie Krieger’s studio with the band – Michael Leasure on drums, Johnny Griparic on bass, Skip Edwards on keyboards – sat around in a circle and developing their own feel for the songs that Trout was bringing in.
The artists covered range from Jimmy Dawkins, through Sunnyland Slim, to John Mayall and Mississippi Fred McDowell to J.B. Lenoir. Otis Rush and Luther Johnson get the Trout treatment as well.
The strength of the originals is plain to hear and while the sound is undoubtedly Walter Trout, the songs get treated as the stars and he manages to convey the meaning and feel of the originals in a whole new setting.
Walter Trout has been through the wars and his last albums were all about his survival and rebirth but he has emerged as a stronger and happier man. This is the right point in his life to be bringing the music that has been with him to a new life.