Walter Trout ‘Blues for the modern daze’ (Provogue) 4/5

Blues guitarist and singer Walter Trout received his musical education via tenure with the 1980s manifestation of the John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (notably the 1988 Island LP ‘Chicago Vine’) and then participation in Canned Heat with John Lee Hooker. He debuted as a leader with the 1989 release ‘Life in the jungle’. Trout is in fact supremely well grounded in the history of the blues since he arrived as a young musician in L.A. in 1973 and, among many other sessions, has performed as a sideman for musicians of the calibre of Lowell Fulsom, Percy Mayfield and Joe Tex, not forgetting John Lee Hooker. Now a veteran of the modern blues scene, this is Trout’s sixth album for the Provogue label and is an extremely well rounded effort. On ‘Blues for my baby’ the piece serves as a vehicle for Trout to lay down one of his signature old-style (and old-style is definitely the best here) guitar solos with acoustic piano making for a lovely juxtraposition and a winining combination. This is the longest cut at just under eight minutes. There are echoes of ‘The thrill is gone’ on ‘Lonely’ with a hook bassline and the impassioned, soulful vocals make this one of the album’s strongest songs. Nice, subtle use of keyboards also greatly aid the ambience. The new album’s inspiration is Blind Willie Johnson who recorded ‘Soul of a man’ and there is some fine bootleneck acoustic blues guitar on ‘All I want is you’. Of the rockers on offer, the best of the lot is ‘Turn off yout t.v.’. On this his latest album, which is his twenty-first overall, Walter Trout delivers the goods and at around the seventy-five minute mark the set represents wonderful value. Not everything is essential, but there is more than enough quality material to offer a blues nirvana for long-time fans and for neophytes this is an ideal way to investigate Trout’s respectful and indeed stylish take on the blues. Tim Stenhouse

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