Self Issued (label)
01 February 2016 (released)
04 February 2016
Wily Bo Walker never does things the ‘normal’ way and this release is a perfect example.
In 2015 he released a trilogy of Eps and albums including the magnificent ‘Moon Over Indigo’ and the much nominated ‘Long Way To Heaven’ (with Karena K on backing vocals) from the first of the three ‘A Long Way From Heaven’. His collaboration with E D Brayshaw, ‘Stone Cold Beautiful’ was yet another highpoint.
Here, he has collated them into a package along with a number of bonus tracks. With a lot of artists it would feel like he was flogging a dead horse but in this case the merging of the three releases has amplified the quality and created something that is beyond the limitations of the trilogy of releases individually.
Walkers vocals are like a bulldog growl, low in the throat and deep, almost spoken but there is still a musical quality there. In many ways he reminds me of Willy DeVille while at others he is Tom Waits to the core.
On ‘Motel Blues’ he puts out a story of louche desperation and his voice carries the feel of booze and cigarettes but you have to feel for the loser who asks “… come up to my motel room and treat me nice”.
He can do a jazzy touch as well – ‘Did I forget To Tell You I Love You’ has a real swing to it with Karena K’s backing vocals sounding very Dan Hicks like.
‘Jawbreaker’ is a driving and horn led cop chase of a number that leaves the listener breathless and leads into the rather lovely ‘For The Children’: strings and Karena K’s vocals setting up his vocals and a superb guitar solo.
Musically the albums have an incredible sense of variety and knowledge of Blues/Soul/Jazz/Rock – it is almost as though he has been playing so many different forms that he turns to the right style for whatever he wants to do and the result is rather like a tin of Celebrations – there isn’t a single flavour you won’t eat but there are definite favourites there too.
2015 was a massive year for Wily Bo and by collecting all of his output from the year into this highly unconventional release he has definitely put down a marker for 2016 – a personal “follow that!”.