Walter Trout has a way of wrenching emotion out of his guitar and his voice. There's a little grit in both, a little sadness, and more than a little stubborn, edgy energy.
Listening to Blues for the Modern Daze, Trout's latest CD and his 21st album in a 39-year music career, you get the feeling he's writing you a series of personal letters. With his vibrant, improvisational solos and from-the-gut vocals, he's telling you how he's feeling about life--the good and the bad, the beautiful and the tragic, the past and the present.
There's some serious cynicism on this release regarding modern life, as Trout bemoans the loss of the personal and the spiritual to technology and narcissistic, amoral philosophy.
Blues for the Modern Daze (to be released April 24, 2012) is mostly pretty hard and fast, with a few slower blues tunes thrown in and a couple of downright mellow ones. This is a strong, hard rocking album. American blues-rock at its tightest and finest.
"Saw My Mama Cryin'" opens the album up with a heartfelt tribute to Trout's mother, who was a powerful influence in his life. "Recovery" talks about the heartache caused by addiction, a thing Trout knows about from personal experience. A thing he has overcome (clean for some 25 years now) after some pretty rough years.
Trout's soloing throughout this CD is great.
I had the pleasure of interviewing him in 2010 after a performance at Chicago's House of Blues. I asked him if he ever tried to reproduce studio solos in a live setting. His answer intrigued me.
"Never," he said. "I can't play the same thing twice. I can sit in the studio and do ten solos in a row and they'll all be completely different. The first ones have the most fire because they're feel. And the more I play them, over and over, it becomes thought instead of feel. I have to just close my eyes and lose myself...it's a weird phenomenon...I just have to play spontaneously."
That spontaneity comes out to play all over these tracks. Highlights are hard to pick because there are so many; but I'm going to go ahead and do it.
"Money Rules The World" blasts right out of the gate with Walter riffing heavy--stomping mercilessly on the wah wah. Plenty of Hendrix/Trower flavor as he jams solos throughout, foot never leaving the pedal. Very nice. Trout breaks the hard-fast rule with the mellow love song, "All I Want Is You." This piece creates a very definite mood with his almost-whispered vocal line, the ring of the acoustic guitar strings, the fitting harmonica spots, subtle keys, and a sweet, understated, unplugged guitar solo. The title cut begins acoustically, then slowly crescendos its way to some rocking Voodoo Chile-like riffs. Mm. Good stuff. There really are tons of great moments on this CD, so I have to stop with the "best of" picks or I'll never end this article.
About the album, Trout says, "It reveals something about me...it sums up the thoughts and attitudes of somebody who is getting a little older and is feeling a little like he's a part of another era, with different values and a different perspective on life than often seem to be prevalent today. And I stand behind those values, like compassion, authenticity, and honesty, as strongly as I stand behind my music."
Trout's songwriting is at a high point on this disc, in my opinion. He is feeling the words and the notes. So will you. Go get Blues for the Modern Daze and start feeling it.
Keep rockin' Walter. I have a feeling you will.