Being born in North Carolina, then migrating to Austin due to music,
might give one an artistic blues advantage. But this scenario doesn’t
synthesize natural ability, you’ve either got it or you don’t, and Seth
Walker has it. This self-titled July 4, 2006 release on the Pacific Blues label
introduces him to a wider audience. The collective musicians on this
disc groove with plenty of space and include the Fabulous Thunderbirds’
Kim Wilson and pianist Floyd Domino of Asleep At The Wheel fame. It is
not surprising that Walker is mainly inspired by guitar players, and
that heavy-duty people like Austin’s W.C. Clark (who guested on Seth’s
second album--this is Walker’s fifth) endorses this leader.
Another notable booster was the late Clifford Antone (whose legend lives
on through his Austin club and record label) who called Mr. Walker “one of
Austin’s most talented guitar players, which is really saying something
in this town. His music brings out the best in the swing and rock ‘n’
roll dancers who flock to see him.” The Texas press also notes that he
“.…knows how to turn volume knobs both ways while kicking out music
based on….dynamics and emotion.” Yes, just on the surface, Seth Walker
Then we start sail on this latest, self-titled, CD. First apparent is
Seth’s warm, relaxed sound and resonant voice. His guitar has that
vacuum-tube John Lee Hooker sound, but he’s also been compared to J.J.
Cale. He’s a great songwriter in both words and music, and all but three
tracks on this disc were written or co-written by Walker.
After a couple bluesy selections, there’s “Steady,” medium-slow with
electric piano, reminding one of Leon Russell, followed by the perfect
medium-tempo shuffle, indeed very Austin-sounding. Slow, 16-bar fare à
la Ray Charles is next, then there’s a jazzy touch with muted trumpet.
“It’s A Sin” is a lesser-known Jimmy Reed number with Kim Wilson’s
harmonica serving as today’s Sonny Boy.
There’s a weak vocal link midway
thru the program, but that detracts very little. “Gone Before I Knew It”
grinds nicely thru a thumbnail bio; “Sundown” tells of a haunting past
in half-time meter. “So Far Gone” actually talks of optimism, in what
again sounds like a southern songwriting style, and the reflective
“Picture In A Frame” by Tom Waits closes, Walker’s tart vocal with just
By now we’re way below the surface on confirmed musical substance. It is
without doubt that Seth Walker live goes even deeper. May his path
continue to be fortuitous. Grade of A-.
CD available at
--- Tom Coulson, Broadcaster/Musician