"The first time I heard Seth Walker at a small club in Nashville I was impressed like I haven't been impressed in 30 years, with performance, presence, and great songs."
- Delbert McClinton
Music audiences around the world were first introduced to Seth Walker with the release of his eponymous long-player on Hyena Records in 2007. It would hit the top twenty of the Americana and Living Blues charts, while receiving praise from publications like No Depression, Blues Revue and Maverick UK Magazine. Creative Loafing wrote, "Seth Walker is a splendid mix of roots styles: blues, soul and Americana, featuring deep-fried guitar licks, churchy organ and crisp horns, mostly delivered over spot-on shuffles." Westword declared, "Seth Walker serves Southern roots guit-pickin' and blues songcraft with ease and grace. Echoing a variety of artists, from Jimmy Reed to Ray Charles, he slips expertly from loose-jointed shuffles to organ-inflected feel-good fare and a whole lot more. An old soul with new fingers, Walker cooks from start to finish." The Austin-based artist hit the road extensively throughout '08, performing at world-renowned festivals like Flat Rock in North Carolina, Springfest in Florida, Rawa Blues Festival in Poland and Moulin Blues in Holland. He headlined shows across the U.S., often playing to sold-out rooms, while joining the likes of Johnny Winter,
Marcia Ball and Robert Cray for
It would seem to those previously unfamiliar with Seth Walker that he emerged practically overnight as one of the fastest rising stars in blues and roots' music. Yet, the 35-year old songwriter, singer and guitarist has been plying his craft in Austin, Texas for upwards of a decade. Growing up on a commune in rural North Carolina, the son of classically trained musicians, Seth played cello before discovering the guitar in his late teens. His introduction to the blues came via his Uncle Landon Walker who was both a musician and disc jockey. Before long Seth was looking to artists like T-Bone Walker, Snooks Eaglin and B.B. King as a wellspring of endless inspiration. During a brief stint in Jacksonville, Florida trying to figure out his life's calling, Seth made a definitive decision "to sing for his supper," reasoning there was no better place on earth to cut his teeth in such a trade than "the greatest music city
on earth" Austin.
"I'm pushing 14 years now having resided in the Austin city limits," says Walker. "Through it's multi-cultural, competitive, and free spirited vibe, I have grown a much deeper understanding of my music and myself. Not to mention, Austin has definitely kept the grease in my
Skip forward to 2009 when Seth Walker returns with his sixth and unquestionably finest record to date, Leap Of Faith. There couldn't, in fact, be a more apropos title. Intent on stepping up his game and exploring new musical territory, Seth took his hard earned Austin cred to Nashville; challenging himself to keep the grit of his Texas home, but spit-shine his songs just enough to reach wider audiences. He hooked up with Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter Gary Nicholson, a veteran at achieving exactly Seth's goals with artists like Chris Knight, Jimmy Thackery and Delbert McClinton. The resulting 12-track collection hits the nail squarely on the head, presenting the stunning range for which Seth has built his reputation, but refining it to
a diamond shimmer.
"Previously, I had always recorded albums my way, on my turf. This was different from the get go due to the fact that we recorded in Nashville with a new team of musicians, a new engineer and a new feeling," explains Seth. "I was out of my comfort zone, and it made me reach for something
unknown to me."
From the opening barnburner "Can't Come With You," Seth Walker is off to the races. A swaggering downtown groove is juxtaposed against the sophistication of uptown horns. "Rewind" calls to mind many a Brill Building classic. It would have been hit single in days when the requisite for topping the charts was a great song. "I Got A Song" is unlike anything Seth has recorded in his career--a pure ballad with a soaring string section and staccato guitar wrapped around an exquisite vocal: "How I love and lost and I paid the cost, always knowing it was all my fault, 'cause I knew all along, it was gonna go wrong, but at least I got a song."
Although Seth had a hand in writing nine of the 12 songs on Leap Of Faith, he proves himself equally as capable interpreting the material of other songwriters. A snarling rendition of the Percy Mayfield chestnut "Memory Pain" highlights how deep his rhythm and blues' roots run. Conversely, his take on Nick Lowe's "Lately I've Let Things Slide," illustrates the wide realm of musical influences from which he draws. One of his finest moments yet captured on "wax," Seth, wistful and confessionary, sings like a man who knows the feeling all too well: "There's a cut upon my brow, must have banged myself somehow, but I don't remember now, and the front door's open wide, lately I've let things slide."
"Lay Down (River of Faith)" continues to build on the record's underlying theme of faith. A gorgeous gospel lullaby, the vocal is entwined around a sanctified slide guitar capable of offering conviction to even the most skeptical. A trio of back to back scorchers found on the record's second half: "I Don't Dance," "Something Fast" and "In The Dark," are surefire roof-raisers in Seth's live performances, but here they also serve to contrast the beauty of the closing number "Falling Out Of Love." More than empathy for regret, the remorse in both lyric and performance is nothing short of Seth mining the saddest corners of his own first hand experiences.
"This album was made during a time in my life when I was caught up in some shadows," Walker concludes. "The idea of a leap of faith actually does reflect where I was at personally and making this record was the light for me."
Seth Walker discusses the songs on
Leap Of Faith...
Can't Come With You: This song was born back in 2005, and was always a favorite due to it's wide net of influences. With almost a techno beat, a Chicago slide guitar part and R&B horn approach,
it just feels right.
Rewind: This was the first song that Gary Nicholson and I wrote. I approached him with the idea, and melody. We really shedded on it, and with his take on the theme, it grew into one of my favorite tunes on the album. The clincher was the string arrangement by Chris Carmichael.
Leap Of Faith: A classic song written by Gary and Glen Clark. I just wanted to swing it a little different, and we did. Kevin McKendree's piano work on this one is a highlight for me.
I Got A Song: Lee Roy Parnell was over hanging out one night, and we were both commiserating on our relationship woes, and I said, "at least I got an album." Gary said, "at least I got a song" and picked up his ragged yellow legal pad, and "I Got A Song" was born. Gary ran this one, and really put this one together. It was the last song to be written for the sessions, and it was the one we worked on the most.
Memory Pain: Percy Mayfield has always been a big influence on my singing and writing. This arrangement was inspired by his Tangerine recordings, featuring the one and only Ray Charles.
Dig A Little Deeper: Gary and I wrote this one as a introspective search to be a better man. The core idea was in another vibe completely, but I really like the way it ended up. One must always dig. Heave ho.
Lay Down (River Of Faith): This song fell out of the sky about 4 years ago. I was visiting my good friend in Dallas. His family is very involved in their church and asked me if I knew any spirituals. I came home and wrote this song in one sitting. I have recorded this song on an earlier album, but I feel this version is the definitive.
Lately I've Let Things Slide: Nick Lowe wrote this gem, and I immediately was drawn to it. We put a little spin on the arrangement, and I think it really
diversifies the album.
I Don't Dance: For over a decade now, dancers have been a big part of my fanbase, and I have never been much of a dancer myself. I have also seen so many guys out on the dance floor with no business to be. Gary really help shape this song, one of his great additions, "There's only one way I'm ever gonna
get a chance..."
Something Fast: We were looking for a rocker on this album, so we hooked up with Tom Hambridge for a session and out jumped this one. It's far from Dylan, but a fun one nonetheless. Delbert McClinton joined me on this track, and I am humbled and honored to have worked with the man.
In The Dark: Gary and I wrote this one off of a guitar riff I made up. It came and went quick, and it seems to stick around. I love the mood of this. It's always a good live piece, as well.
Falling Out Of Love: This idea was born a few years ago in the shape of a another song entirely. Gary and I chopped it up and wrote this saddest song I have ever composed. I was going through some very emotional times during these sessions, and the rain just falls over this track. The band really captured the mood of "falling
out of love."
Seth Walker returns with his sixth and unquestionably finest record to date, Leap Of Faith. There couldn't, in fact, be a more apropos title. Intent on stepping up his game and exploring new musical territory, Seth took his hard earned Austin cred to Nashville; challenging himself to keep the grit of his Texas home, but spit-shine his songs just enough to reach wider audiences. He hooked up with Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter Gary Nicholson, a veteran at achieving exactly Seth's goals with artists like Chris Knight, Jimmy Thackery and Delbert McClinton. The resulting 12-track collection hits the nail squarely on the head, presenting the stunning range for which Seth has built his reputation, but refining it to a diamond shimmer.
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