Mescal Canyon (label)
31 July 2020 (released)
22 July 2020
A new Wily Bo Walker album is always something to be eagerly anticipated and the ‘tasters’ I’ve been hearing for a while certainly whetted my appetite for some dark voodoo Blues. Now It’s here and the result definitely lives up to my expectations.
Wily Bo has a voice that occasionally hits the depths with a force that is absolutely exhilarating and on this album he shows the full range of his tones. When you couple that with Danny Flam’s horns the effect is chilling, adding jazz and film noir to Walker’s dystopian road and twisted relationship visions.
It's no surprise that Flam worked with Walker on his ‘Moon Over Indigo’ album, making that set all the more stark and three dimensional and he does the same here but this time around Walker has also called in the guitar mastery of Mike Ross & Troy Redfern (the two ‘R’s of RHR and top class solo artists as well) as well as Pete Farrugia, Keith York & Geoff Slater who all add different feel and tonality to the music so that this is less a ‘Mood’ piece and more an album of tracks . Karena K Ashton adds backing vocals and sax and as does Li’l Niell.
The title track has the feel of a seventies cop show set in LA and a lot of the Wily Bo trademarks are there in his dark vocals and howling guitar line. He manages a very different take on ‘Did I Forget (To Tell You I Love You)’ (previously released as a single) with baritone sax belching out the emphasis and The Brown Sisters backing vocals giving the track a fifties feel, ‘Velvet Windows (Treme Trippin)’ has a gorgeous New Orleans punch to it with a baritone sax line that is just a dream and a keyboard that takes me right to the smoky cinemas of my youth.
Every track here has its own little story set in its own little world – a whispery and sleazy ‘Walking With The Devil (Blood On My Hands) or a brassy and ballsy ‘Night Of The Hunter’ or a stunning version of the classic ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ with a great horn intro and some fine Hammond playing.
One of the most exhilarating releases this year and it really does stand up with Walker’s best works, I found myself cueing it up time and again.
One of the albums of the year.
The album is available as a single album but if you can, shell out for the deluxe edition with a series of remixes from his past releases – worth it as a release in its own right.