By Mike O’Cull
Award-winning bluesman Joe Louis Walker flies high once again on his brand new record Weight of the World.
The album comes out February 17th, 2023 on Forty Below Records and is another huge helping of Walker’s high-value playing, singing, and songwriting. Eric Corne (John Mayall, Walter Trout, Sugaray Rayford) produced the sessions and did a fine job of pulling the best out of the multi-dimensional Walker and a cracking studio band. Walker moves through genres with the grace of a true master and Weight of the World contains inflections of vintage soul, contemporary blues, jazz, funk, rock and roll, and more. His musical might and confidence are the thread that connects all these sounds and songs and everything goes down as intended from beginning to end.
Joe Louis Walker has been building his legend since his first solo album dropped in 1986. He’s a triple-threat musician who can play guitar, sing, and write songs at the highest level. Considered one of his generation’s most important bluesmen, he has recorded with Bonnie Raitt, Ike Turner, Taj Mahal, and Steve Cropper, opened for Muddy Waters and Thelonius Monk, hung out with Hendrix and Freddie King, and lived with Mike Bloomfield. He has won multiple Blues Music Awards, and been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Walker has built a large and loyal following and is one of the leading lights of contemporary roots music.
Walker split the songwriting duties for Weight of the World with producer Eric Corne. The two writers then assembled a barn-burning studio band featuring Scott Milici (keyboards), John Medeiros Jr. (drums), Geoff Murfitt (bass), Eddie Jackson (bongos), Marc Pender (trumpet), David Ralicke (saxophone), Eric Gorfain (violin), Gia Ciambotti (background vocals), and Corne, himself (background vocals, guitar). The end result of getting all this talent into the same room is an album that may just be the best release of Walker’s enviable career.
Walker opens the set with his title cut “Weight Of The World.” The tune has an easy, 70s soul vibe to it that offsets his lyrical concerns about living in these difficult times. Joe’s vocals are immediately emotive and, although the song acknowledges many problems, he still makes you feel like it’s all going to be ok. His gorgeous, clean-toned lead guitar work sparkles as well, cutting tight ideas out of the air. “Is It A Matter Of Time” follows with its own soulful message and inspiring character.
“Weight Of The World”
The funky “Count Your Chickens” is a floor-shaker that flexes and struts. Echoes of Jimi and Santana can be detected by careful listening but this is Joe’s show all the way. The band’s pocket is slamming and crisp and Walker’s high-energy distorted lead playing is edgy and bold. He’s a power machine on his instrument and can slug it out with the finest guitarists of any era.
“Root Down” is a boundary-stretching indie/blues hybrid that creates its own cool world. It’s both familiar and non-traditional, which makes it an attention-getter and a whole bunch of fun. Walker is as vibrant as ever and is still clearly growing and evolving.
Other don’t-miss deep cuts include the modern-ish “Bed Of Roses” and the swinging jazz organ groove of “You Got Me Whipped” that closes out the record. All told, Weight of the World is an epic showing for Walker and touches on all of the things he does so well. His songs never get repetitive or feel like meager excuses to play solos. Rather, Joe extracts different energies from each one and shows us countless unique sides of himself. Listen and discover how fresh roots music can be in the right hands.
Pre-order Weight Of The World HERE