Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
New Jersey might not get the press it deserves by right when it is compared to its neighbour New York City, but without the dedication and the aspirations, the ability and the down-right tenacity of some of its greatest musical exponents, the world would be undoubtedly a be a less dynamic, less conscious place.
It is those shores, wild, rugged, full of the easy gain in Atlantic city and the natural reserve of Benny’s Landing that mark out the Soul Of A Man, that bears witness to how a person evolves and sees the humble beginning become the towering inferno of passionate writing, that the heart of American song writing could be considered to be in the towns that surround the Wild Wood, Hoboken, and Newark. This is after all the state of mind that sees the Delaware River and Washington’s defiance, this is the trail of the Appalachians and the rugged test of nature holding a grudge against humanity but celebrating in the ability to conquer the test of fear and loneliness; this is where the Soul Of A Man is laid out for all to see.
For the Billy Walton Band, the tenth anniversary is more than something to celebrate, it is the measure in which to look closely and appreciate the music that the group and the musician himself have put out, the harmony, the melody, the deep down dirty Blues with a sense of the high flying angelic. In Soul Of A Man, eleven original compositions and two well produced and meaningful covers are greeted with the feeling of heart-felt thanks, that ten years may have got behind us all in many respects but it is to the future that we should look.
In tracks such as Hell In Highwater, My Little Bird, Minglewood, Can’t Keep A Good Man Down and Days Like These, the Billy Walton Band take the fire of the Appalachians, the grandeur of the imagery of Washington leading the troops and honourable men in oils and reprints, and turns it into an album of depth, precision, great rhythm and the sincerity expected.
The soul is sacrosanct and as Billy makes clear throughout the album, it is best to lean back and enjoy the ride, after all the soul isn’t without its desires.
Billy Walton Band’s Soul Of A Man is out now.
Ian D. Hall