Between a Rock and the Blues

Joe Louis Walker

This CD is the follow-up to last year’s super successful Witness to the Blues, his debut album on this Canadian label, and he’s teamed again with guitarist/producer Duke Robillard (one of the founders of New England’s Roomful of Blues, some of whom are on board here). Walker continues to stretch the boundaries of his music, mixing in soul (and even gospel on “If There’s a Heaven”) with his blues. Two songs detail the kind of misery that love can occasionally bring: on “Black Widow Spider” he laments that his woman “was an angel in the morning and a devil at night,” while on “Prisoner of Misery” he repines in anguished tones “Three kinds of fool, that’s what I’ve been.” Walker gets his groove going on the jumping “I’m Tide” (aka “tired”) and “I’ve Been Down” (where he’s joined by guitarist Kevin Eubanks)—oddly enough he sounds very up on both numbers. Walker slows down on “Eyes Like a Cat,” an early Little Charlie and the Nightcats fave and, with a horn backup, really kills on “Way Too Expensive.” He rips more slide on Robillard’s “Tell Me Why” and whips out his 12-string acoustic guitar for “Send You Back,” a solid back-porch duet with harpist Sugar Ray Norcia.