Album Reviews

Seth Walker

Gotta Get Back

Artist:     Seth Walker

Album:     Gotta Get Back

Label:     Royal Potato Family

Release Date:     09/02/2016


Seth Walker is a bluesman dressed up as an Americana artist. I’ve always felt that way about him since I first saw him perform at the Americana Music Conference over ten years ago. Seven albums later, nine in all, I still feel that way; Seth Walker is one soulful cat. Now based in New Orleans after having resided in Austin, Nashville and New York, the commune-raised North Carolinian comes full circle with this release. In search of rejuvenation and a new spark, Walker reached way back the folks who encouraged  him in the first place: his family. His father teaches cello and Irish fiddle and his mother also became a violinist. Early on, Seth and his sister trained on both instruments, but were also exposed to wide spectrum of music growing up in the commune.

Although the album was recorded primarily at Zac Brown’s studio in Nashville, select tracks were recorded at several other studios. The North Carolina sessions were especially important. Walker gathered his sister along with his parents, who had been divorced for 20 years, to record the beautiful string parts, all of which were arranged by his father. Walker explains, “I wanted to see if we could throw our worlds together, so I sent my dad the new music along with some Al Green, Louis Armstrong, old Ray Charles and Nelson Riddle string arrangements to check out… We had the stings set up in a semi-circle and I was right there with them singing and playing guitar. It about brought a tear to this old boy’s eye.”

Jano Rix, keyboardist and drummer for the Wood Brothers, produced the record and played several instruments as well. The New Orleans touch is felt on the opening collaboration with Gary Nicholson “High Time,” and even more acutely on “Fire in the Belly,” which evokes the Neville Brothers. “Dreamer” has a Caribbean flavor. While the album is more varied than most of his catalog, the soulful, bluesy, R&B influence prevails as always. “Back Around,” a co-write with Oliver Wood, has a gospel feel with its rhythmic clapping, while “Movin’ On’’ channels country-soul. “Way Past Midnight” takes it all up several notches with two drummers and breakneck rhythms, inspired by the excitement Walker felt on first trips to New York.

It’s an album with several themes: traveling, relationships, and family. It’s mostly about going back in order to move forward. Says Walker, “I think that the communal feeling of making this record with these people takes me back to my early roots in North Carolina. We all gotta take our turn tending to the garden.” Walker has made several excellent records, but he’s never sounded better than he does here.

Walker is touring the record with several dates in Virginia and North Carolina. He will also appear at the Pennsylvania Music Festival in Lake Harmony, PA on October 30th.

-Jim Hynes

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