Wee Willie Walker ‘If Nothing Ever Changes’ (Little Village Foundation) 5/5

wee-willie-walkerIt’s been a cracking year for me so far for new soul releases, many of which have emanated from my beloved southern states. Well, the year just got a whole lot better because we have this magnificent singer back in the studio with a huge ensemble of musicians, there are some covers and some new tunes – all of which have those throaty lived-in black vocals that only surface once in a while. Of course he’s provided us with some stunning music over the years, the last new product I have from him dates from 2004 when he fronted the Butanes on the long player “Right where I belong”.
Straight then to “Read Between the Lines” the Clarke/Reid outing. We are transported back to the halcyon days of Stax/Atlantic and the quality never drops from this point on. Next up is a gospel tinged version of Lennon/McCartney’s “Help”, easily the best version I have heard, with Willie sharing lead vocals with Curtis Selgardo, who himself is a wonderful vocalist himself. “I been watching you” is a lovely down-tempo stroller which is held together with subtle funky guitar licks with horns a plenty – actually we have glorious horns all over this album. The ballad “Not that I care” is pure down-home unadulterated soul with country tinges. Then we come to the monster track on here, “I don’t remember loving you”, a mid-tempo chugging dancer of epic proportions, underpinned with cavernous percussion, Wurlitzer and a subtle ‘chacking’ guitar. Willie’s vocals are on top of the mix, riding the session out, four and a half minutes of sheer heaven. This track has made me feel so good and my ‘track of the year’ so far. Both “What love can do” and “If nothing ever changed” are down-tempo ballads with real quality, real songs that suck you in. The rest of the album is made up of great songs which all have depth and substance, the list of musicians is endless and the sound they have created really is a tribute to the real deal all of which suits Willie’s vocal perfectly.

Brian Goucher