Wim S. : Walter Trout needs no further introduction. At least, that is what I think (and hope), right? Anyone interested in blues(rock) knows the man course. There are only a few guitarists from blues scene who have a repertoire and style that is also appreciated in the heavy music business. In addition to Joe Bonamassa and Gary Moore, both of whom have really built a bridge between (heavy) rock and blues, Trout his guitar playing is also well received by metal heads. Walter Trout has had major health problems (liver transplantation!), released a great live double album in 2016 with Alive In Amsterdam and he now releases a new studio album under the moniker Survivor Blues, an album with cover versions of twelve well-known and (mostly) less well-known blues songs. And if one person may call himself a survivor, Trout is one of them.
Well, I am not so fond of albums filled with covers. I often find the original versions better and cover versions add nothing. I do not doubt the sincerity of musicians to honor heroes or sources of inspiration, but I always wonder why that should be in the form of an album with cover songs. Play a few of those songs at your live performances, that seems more than enough! Anyway, Trout dishes us twelve songs from which the majority is unknown to me. He really kicks off with a blast with Me My Guitar And The Blues (a song by Jimmy Dawkins) in which Trout has packed a solo that immediately puts you upright in your chair, great stuff. The solos on this album are really amazing: whooping, almost crying and sometimes really fast. Awesome. He continues with a guitar shuffle in Be Careful How You Vote (from one guy named Sunnyland Slim) and Woman Dont Lie. As you can see, Trout has not chosen yet another version of Stormy Monday or Got My Mojo Working, but we get to listen to real, more unknown blues songs. On this album Trout remains closer to the blues than for example Joe Bonamassa, who regularly makes trips to more rock oriented material. Well, because I am a little bit fed up with the blues right now I find the album quite easy to digest, but that is purely due to the exceptional guitar playing of Walter Trout. The songs are not interesting for rock fans, let alone for the real metalhead, but the guitar playing is great. Trout combines a smooth technique with a nice sound. He seldom plays notes that are not functional. His solo build up is a bit simple: you can hear from miles away which way they are going. But that should not spoil the fun. As a singer Trout never excelled, but what he shows here fits in seamlessly with what the songs demand vocally. Best song, besides the opening track, is the nice rolling Gods Word which also contains a killer solo. Trout still is relevant.