The mega multi-talented producer, and UK based Country and Americana singer-songwriter & guitarist TJ WALKER issues his second album ‘Halfway to Somewhere’ on 28th October, 2022.
Tom explains: “The album features my band The Long Game (who took their name from the debut album!). That’s Mike Drinkwater on keyboards and backing vocals and Ralph Millington on drums and also BGV. The single also features the Brand New Heavies’ touring brass section, playing Mike’s great brass arrangement for extra pizzazz.”
“Genre-wise, you’ll find ‘Halfway to Somewhere’ broader and more varied than its predecessor: some of the tracks nod towards the blues, even classic rock at times, but all the time the lyrics are telling stories.”
Guitar features prominently on the new album, for a reason: “During my enforced break from gigging due to lockdown, I fell in love with playing the guitar for its own sake again. Because I wasn’t out gigging several times a week, I had the desire and motivation to practice at home and started to make weekly YouTube videos about the guitar, which gave me a reason to practice! As the album was recorded mainly during lockdown, there’s more guitar featuring than on the first album.”
The first single taken from the album ‘With and Without You’ (featured in the new musical ‘Thank God for Nashville’ and shared below) delivers coolheaded style, perceptive lyrics, exemplary guitar-play, and (for the very first time for Tom) brilliantly decorated brass!
‘Dreamcatcher’ is a dreamy patter of sound with dapples of effulgent guitar. The vocal is tight as a tie-rod, and taut in tensity as a calf-skin squeezed against a thunder-drumhead. Yet the number still bops like a streetcar on a splashy track and soars like an eaglehawk in a sunshiny velvet sky.
Title track ‘Halfway To Somewhere’ is a tempered & highly articulative number that brings to mind The Band’s country-soul feel (circa ‘68.) File alongside ‘Country Comfort’ (Elton John.)
‘Time Out’ also has that big-country Steve Goodman-sized sound. It’s an uplifting rock performance with comfortative (though wistful) keys, homesick but inspirational lyrics, and supremely polished production. ‘Hollywood’ is similarly comforting and very highly-emotioned.
‘Small Town Bar’ is another number that might have been found on Tumbleweed Connection. The narrativity and phrase-making is reminiscent of Robbie Robertson, and this has that grand yeehaw! sense of farewell (to better times) that these days punctures all our lives. So, yes, there’s a sense of regret in this song, but there’s hope too… because like all of us, from a bar-stool this songwriter hopes for strength and understanding!
Aren’t we all halfway to someplace better? Let’s pray that we are…
For fans of Al Kooper (playing with Manassas)
Words:@neilmach 2022 ©
Album cover photo: Steve Davey
Halfway To Somewhere is out Friday 28 Oct, 2022