I have lost track of the number of times I have been lucky enough to review a new album by Walter Trout: this is his 21st and I think I have covered most of them. I know that one day I am going to have to start the review in a negative tone but not yet – this is one of his best yet.
The cover features his trusty Strat, the paint and varnish worn off the top of the body through years of use going all the way back to his days with Canned Heat, John Mayall and even his stints with John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Lowell Fulsom. That axe and its player have seen some rare sights and made some wonderful music together. This album sounds as though he is still learning and still developing and there are very few people you could say that about – that axe is still paying its way.

The album is a lot more of a Blues album than we have had from Trout for a while. He is a rocker with a Blues side generally but this is Blues with some rock and it seems to be giving him a new lease on his playing.

"My main inspiration for this album,” says Trout, “was the country bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, an early blues innovator who recorded such timeless gospel informed blues numbers as Soul of a Man and Nobody’s Fault But Mine. His music is beautiful, primal, direct and deeply spiritual. I wanted to feel it at my back when we were cutting these songs.”
Continues Trout, “The new album explores a side of my music that’s rooted in my first musical love, and it reveals something about me, too. It sums up the thoughts and attitudes of somebody who is getting a little older and is feeling like he’s a part of another era, with different values and a different perspective on life that’s prevalent today. I stand behind compassion, authenticity and honesty, as strongly as I stand behind my music.”

For those who want rip-roaring solos they can have tracks like ‘Turn Off Your TV’ and the heartfelt playing on ‘Saw My Mama Cryin’ with a huge organ from Sammy Avila will please the guys who like his ‘too many notes played too fast’ persona but with tracks like ‘Recovery’ he is very close to the bone and the heartfelt emotion in his vocal is exceptional.
Walter is a guy who is not afraid of bucking the trends and who doesn’t need to wrap himself in anyone else’s stardom in order to play. It feels like he is partnering all our personal journeys and if we can keep as creative and as honest after 39 years (he first showed up in LA in 1973) the world will be a better place.

All the usual Walter Trout signatures are here but there is a freshness to his playing that suggests more is still to come.
Great album, as usual.