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Seth Walker - Time Can Change


12 tracks/

Seth Walker garnered a lot of well-deserved praise for his last release, Leap of Faith, a disc filled with Walker's expressive vocals and great songs that he co-wrote with acclaimed tune-smith Gary Nicholson. Coming off that career highlight, expectations were set high for Walker's newest release.

The fact that he comes close to delivering an equally successful effort shows that Walker has staying power. This time he ventures beyond the blues for a program of soulful tunes that mix a variety of influences, anchored by Walker's breezy vocal style and his understated guitar work. The rhythm section of Steve Mackey on bass and Derek Phillips on drums add layers of flavor to the proceedings.

Most of the tracks range from mid-tempo pace to slower ballads. “Wait a Minute” sports a reggae feel and gets a boost from Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton) on organ. Walker's heartfelt performance on “In The Meantime” is a high point, with Jessi Alexander handling the backing vocal. “Love is Through With Me” combines a light, funky rhythm with accents from McKendree's Wurlitzer organ behind Walker's ruminations heartbreak of love. The band slides into a jazzier vein on “Found Myself Lost” as Walker delivers a noteworthy guitar solo. The gentle “Rosalie” finds Walker professing his love and fidelity to the woman he loves. His engaging vocal wins out over generic lyrics with assistance from Stefano Intelisano on accordion.

The brooding “Before it Breaks” features another fine, but brief, solo from the leader and generates more heat than anything else on the disc. “What Now”, co-written with Raul Malo, is the kind of tune that Jimmy Witherspoon built his career on. Malo plays bass on “More Days Like This”, a feel-good cut with a finger-poppin' rhythm. On “Something's Come Over Me”, Walker seems to be paying tribute to Frank Sinatra on a ballad sparked by Ephraim Owens' trumpet solo. The McCrary sisters – Regina, Ann & Alfreda – bring a touch of gospel to “Stronger Than You Need To Be”.

This one requires a number of listens to fully grasp what Walker is trying to do. The instrumental solos are brief, concise statements that often are gone before you even know they were there. While some songs bear the burden of weak lyrics, the musical arrangements are cohesive statements that enliven almost every cut. Walker's honeyed voice grows on you as he deftly navigates the wide range of styles.

If you are a die-hard blues fan or need to hear hard-driving music, look elsewhere. This one is for those who appreciate a fine singer who favors a low-key approach to music. If you prefer a mellower approach, make sure that you check this one out.

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

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