Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Album Review: Walter Trout - Survivor Blues

Survivor Blues, Walter Trout’s follow-up to 2015’s equally aptly titled Battle Scars, is comprised exclusively of covers. The previous record served as an exorcism of sorts, a way for the guitarist from New Jersey to dispel the negative energy produced by the maladies that almost brought him down for good. Quite literally, living to tell the tale.

It is now time for Walter Trout to resume business as usual. What happens in the aftermath of such a traumatic life event? The answer is in Survivor Blues, a fantastic collection of excellent numbers by blues luminaries like Elmore James, BB King, Trout’s erstwhile employer John Mayall, and other less celebrated players like Sunnyland Slim and Luther “Snakeboy” Johnson.

As usual, Walter’s playing is stellar. His voice is soulful and clear and belies his advancing age and past struggles. The whole album rocks pretty hard but never strays from the blues idiom. It also sounds absolutely grogeous, with each nuance of Trout’s playing clearly audible. 

His guitar playing is obviously the focus of the album, but he happily shares centre stage on some tracks such as Goin’ Down To The River The Doors’ Robby Krieger plays a wonderful slide guitar.

It’s hard to choose a highlight but in the middle of the record are three songs that are the centrepiece of the record in this reviewer’s ears: the slow blues Nature’s Disappearing,  which features a stunning solo like a fountain of musical ideas that never stops flowing, the gorgeous Red Sun which burns with the same intensity as its subject and Something Inside Of Me and its impassioned vocals.

Survivor Blues is a great record that takes all of life’s somber, sad, scary and frustrating aspects and, through the power of music, turns them into a party. Some call it therapy, some call it catharsis. Some call it the Blues. Walter Trout calls it his life.

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