As you may know, the blues-guitarist Walter Trout faced exitinction during the summer of 2014.
Remarkably, he has returned fighting-fit and bursting with creative energy.
He even brings us a new album Battle Scars which reflects his emergence from an ordeal. He underwent an incredible life-saving liver transplant. You can read all about his anxiety, pain and rescue in our printed September “Trouble” edition.
Trout is now moving on. He’s a hard-wearing soul, so far unbeaten. And he is celebratating his fiftieth year as a guitarist.
You can catch his touring show, it’s re-energized and potent — (UK dates below.) He plays with his band-mates: keyboardist Sammy Avila, drummer Michael Leasure (formerly Edgar Winter Band) and new bassist Johnny Griparic — who joined in time to record Battle Scars in Los Angeles’ Kingsize Soundlabs with Trout’s longtime producer Eric Corne.
We have been listening to the new album. It’s a stunner:
As you might expect, it’s all about the indurability of life. It’s best to recognise these threats and extinctions before they come. Hence, “Almost Gone” is fierce and determined. Guitar surgery that cuts fast and deep, like a clean scalpel.
The voice here is resolved, muscular. The melody is efficient and cleansing. The song transports us to the waiting rooms, to those loved-ones who stay vigilant and prayerful. Here there is hope (and just a hint of regret). Also a true sense that time is gently slipping away. Of course, love is the remedy.
‘Omaha’ gets started early and is filled with emergency and predicament. A dark-beat ripples below the surface. The guitar’s a bundle of taught filaments. The atmosphere on this is heavy with anxiety, as the narrator ‘counts off’ those who leave (this world) before him. And during the introspection, a yellow fungus of cloudy guitar emerges like some kind of deadly mustard gas that’s about to consume any egocentric doubt.
This album isn’t all about gloom, though. Far from it! It’s about resistance and connection (maybe enjoying a renewed and healthily positive relationship with a stronger & wiser self.) So “Playin’ Hideaway” struts with pride and determination. A sparkling riff is set-up and reminds us of ZZ Top. The voice is filled with grit and energy and the chorus is addictive. This would be an effervescent and successful lead track. Certainly, it will be a big-hit at the live shows.
Acoustic guitar aficionados will wait for (and adore) “Gonna Live Again.” Here is contrition. Trout speaks directly to a higher power. The regret is that he allowed his (previous) life to run-along past him. So, on this song his resolution is clear. He must live life fuller and be more generous. This song has the darkness of Johnny Cash. Humble and plain-talking. It’s cleverly designed and beautifully executed.
Trout has been granted an extraordinary gift. It’s not just another chance at life. It’s another chance to witness love, strength and unflagging commitment. He wouldn’t be here without the courage of those around him… The overwhelming generosity of his fans and supporters, which included a YouCaring campaign (set up by Kirby Bryant, the wife of British blues guitarist and Trout protégée Danny Bryant) and various concert tributes, raised $245,000 towards his healthcare.
This album is the victory. And also a redemption and a reward. Have fun with it.
Tues 17 November Stockton, Arc
Weds 18 November Glasgow, ABC
Fri 20 November Holmfirth, Picturedrome
Sat 21 November London, Forum
Tues 24 November Leamington, Assembly
Weds 25 November Frome, Cheese & Grain