WALTER TROUT The Outsider Provogue PRD 7245 2(2008)
'The Outsider' might loosely be interpreted as a concept album full of characters who as Walter himself sings on the title track are 'standin' on the outside lookin' in'.
The list includes Walter himself who provides the first person narrative for the barnstorming opening track 'Welcome To The Human Race'. He extends the list of outsiders on one of the album's best tracks the riff driven 'Child of Another Day'.
There's even room for an ode to an unlikely outsider in the shape of his Indian film star friend Sanjay Dutt. And, as is always the way with Walter, his range of songs are full of emotional honesty and brilliant playing.
The second thing to note is this is the second Walter Trout album in succession without his core band The Radicals, although bass Rick Knapp enjoys a co write credit on 'Welcome To The Human Race' and plays on the title track, while Hammond player Sammy Avila appears on 10 of the 13 tracks as either a keyboard player or backing vocalist.
Drummer Kenny Aronoff meanwhile adds a heavier bottom end in conjunction with mellifluous bass lines of James 'Hutch' Hutchinson. This is also Walter's first recording with producer John Porter, who obviously has spent a lot of time on working on the sonic qualities of both the record and Walter's guitar tone in particular.
There's some beautiful vibrato and a contrasting tough tone on the Free inspired 'Don't Wanna Fall' and Walter derives his most muscular tone on 'The Love Song of J Alfred Bluesrock' - a thinly disguised reworking of 'Put It Right Back On You' or even 'Ride Til I'm Satisfied', but is a killer track nonetheless.
There's also some acoustic and electric combined on the ironic but very radio friendly 'The Next Big Thing' which employs an eastern, psychedelic Beatles 'Revolver' style guitar outro.
But ultimately the thing that sets Walter above his peers is his consistent song output. The 13 songs here offer all the best facets of his oeuvre, from tough rocking blues and riff driven inspired rocking to acoustic ballads.
The lyrics at times may seem a little bleak but are delivered with such passion and intense musicality by Trout that it all fits perfectly. Put simply 'The Outsider' does the trick because it is full of heartfelt emotion and scintillating playing by a guitarist at the height of his game.
Listen to the blistering solo and band interplay on the heavy duty shuffle 'The Love Song of J Alfred Bluestock' and you could be forgiven for forgetting this was recorded in a studio environment as the band rocks out imperiously.
The album's sequencing is excellent and the production is everything that you imagine Walter wanted. And in the company of new set of musicians and intuitive producer he plays to his optimum. He may seem himself as an 'outsider' but this album offers further evidence that Walter Trout is very much at the centre of the best blues rock out there.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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