REVIEW: Walter Trout – Ride

0
348

Old blues icons are a different breed – at the tender age of 70, the US blues-rock guitarist, Walter Trout, is releasing his 30th album “Ride” on August 19th, 2022, via Provogue Records. Most rock bands run out of steam long before reaching such a milestone but on his new offering, Trout shows no signs of slowing down. While the album comes packed with a good few ballads, his top-notch guitarism makes sure that the listener will not start dosing off even during the quieter moments – and when he lets rip, the riffs punch hard and his blues licks resonate with an air of such authenticity that it leaves no questions about what’s what. It should not come as surprise to anyone who’s familiar with his track record: Trout‘s career kicked off on the Jersey Coast blues scene of the late 1960s and he has been a sideman to quite a few pedigree blues names, from John Lee Hooker and Percy Mayfield to Big Mama Thornton. He has also played in JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS and CANNED HEAT before embarking on his acclaimed solo career in 1989. They say that however fast or far a man travels, he can never truly outrun his past. With a past like Trout‘s, there’s no need to. There’s a subtle 1970s-tinted feel to the album, probably stemming from the fact that blues has not been the talk of the town since the advent of disco and punk. At the same time, the music sounds timeless. I guess it comes with the package; jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis once said that “blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.” Walter Trout‘s new outing indeed confirms that it is.

From the album’s freight train of an opener, “Ghosts,” to the closure-bringing ballad, “Destiny,” the new selection of songs is characterized by Trout‘s bluesy rasp that is charged with the gravitas of the years and his pristine guitarism that speaks straight from the emotional core of the blues maestro himself. In his own words, “This album is obviously what I was going through mentally and emotionally. All I did was express it.” The songs are like brief sneak-peeks down the memory lane with some of the memories being seemingly long-distant but eternally poignant – like the recounting of the locomotive that once rattled past Trout‘s childhood home as reminisced in the lyrics of the title track, one of the album’s more up-tempo blues bangers with subtle southern-rock leanings.

It’s hard to even say what the standard-issue blues consists of in this day and age anymore, but throughout this selection, there were pleasant flashbacks from the golden era of blues rock: the 1970s. “So Many Sad Goodbyes” steamrolls forward with a slightly funky gait, reminiscent of vintage STEELY DAN, while “Waiting For The Dawn” could challenge Eric Clapton‘s late-night blues-rock classic “Wonderful Tonight” with ease. A tad more out of the ordinary setting for a blues number comes in “I Worry Too Much,” which could be the baby brother of Stevie Wonder‘s “Higher Ground” with its funky clavinets and all! “The Fertile Soil,” in turn, trigger nice THE BAND flashbacks. Another nod towards the long-gone days of yonder, “Leave It All Behind,” comes jam-packed with soulful horns tooting homage to The Blues Brothers. I’m pretty convinced that Jake and Elwood would approve!

When it comes to broad-ranging dynamics, at its most tranquil, the album is slightly reminiscent of Tim Bowness‘s atmospheric melancholy prog even, on the track, “Follow You Back Home,” while at the other end of the emotional spectrum, on “Better Days Ahead,” for instance, you may have a hard time believing that the raw blues sermon roasting the Devil in its feathers is actually coming from a 70-year-old chap. The harmonica-driven riffathon, “High Is Low,” is also a bit rough around the edges, so that you can almost feel the cool breeze sweeping across your face, coming straight from the marshlands of the Mississippi delta.

According to the great Texan blues hierophant, Billy Gibbons of ZZ TOP, the blues is composed of feeling, finesse, and fear. These three F’s apply to Walter Trout‘s new album quite as well. “Ride” is a fine sequel to his 2020 outing “Ordinary Madness” in keeping the blue flame burning bright.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Ghosts
  2. Ride
  3. Follow You Back Home
  4. So Many Sad Goodbyes
  5. High Is Low
  6. Waiting For the Dawn
  7. Better Days Ahead
  8. The Fertile Soil
  9. I Worry Too Much
  10. Leave It All Behind
  11. Hey Mama
  12. Destiny

Lineup

Walter Trout – vocals, guitars

Label

Provogue Records

Links

Homepage

Facebook

Instagram