By now, most blues fans and devotees are familiar with the story of Walter Trout’s courageous journey from death’s door back to life, love, and health. His was a journey to the deepest, darkest depths of despair and darkness, and back again to the light of a renewed spirit, and an appreciative heart, full of love and gratitude.
Walter was extremely blessed to be accompanied on his journey back to the world by his loving wife Marie and their family, his friends, and his doctors, who did everything they could to help him become healthy and whole again. Of course, there was the gift of life in the transplanted liver he received, along with the love and support of fans who raised over $240,000 in donations to assist him and his family with medical bills and related expenses.
Walter Trout is back, at long last! Now is a new beginning that witnessed him learning to touch and play his guitar, all over again. Walter is a changed man. How could he not be after the journey he has made, the obstacles he has faced, and overcome? He could not be the same man he was, for if he was, then all the struggles he has persevered, all the hard won knowledge he has gained, would be lost, and his trials and tribulations would have been but a waste of time. Physically he would be recovered, but the immense opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth would have been squandered.
This change is on display for all to see with the release of Walter’s new album, Battle Scars, out on October 23rd on Mascot Label Group’s Provouge Records. The package we received for review contained 13 tracks with a running time of 59 minutes. The mix, is excellent; every note is in just the right space, at the right volume. Production is smooth without being flashy, and the sound quality is extremely good. Overall, production values reflect the love and care that has been afforded to accurately recording this important musical chapter in Walter’s life; a new beginning if you will. “I’m thrilled about this album, about my life and about my music,” Walter said recently.
The work here is not cliche, sappy, feel-good puffery. This is Walter talking about his illness, and his emotional and physical pain. This is Walter facing the fear of not knowing: Not knowing if he will be around to share in the love and day to day growth of his family, or even play music again for himself, or his fans. In short, these songs are a gutsy, honest look at Walter’s fight, and his journey back. “I feel that I’m reborn as a songwriter, a singer, a guitarist and a human being. I have a new chance at being the best musician and the best man that I can be. And I’m incredibly happy and grateful.”
On a technical level, Walter’s chording and fretwork are no less fierce than his previous work, but here, everything is more refined, smooth, and economical. His music is still engaging, inspiring, and certainly emotive, but now there is a focus and tightness, more so than before.
There are several standout tracks here. “Almost Gone” has Walter singing “Now I get the feeling/Something’s going wrong/Can’t help but feelin’/I won’t last too long.” This foreboding sense of gloom is furthered by the powerful voice of the guitar moving us along, ramped up by the urgency of the harmonica bursts, with the harmony of the backing vocals adding a sense of smoothness. “Omaha” tells of the doubt, pain, and fear that Walter experienced while at the Nebraska Medical Center with its clean leads, towering chords, and sophisticated, pent up angst, ready to burst forth. “Tomorrow Seems So Far Away” features guitar lines that are biting and fluid without being acidic, with riffing that is huge and deep, and everything is done oh so cleanly!
“Please Take Me Home” tugs at the heartstrings, showcasing a great lead, and winning vocals as well. “Playin’ Hideaway” is a rocker that will have folks for the volume knob to crank it up. The guitar textures and tone in “Move On” are wonderful, and “Gonna Live Again” is an acoustic work of beauty that has Walter speaking to his renewed commitment to live.
Yes, folks, Walter Trout is back, better than ever. This is by far one of the best records he has gifted his fans with, and the growth he shows here in writing and playing is phenomenal. We are grateful that Walter has shared his story with us through this moving and impassioned music. Like his story, Battle Scars is informative and inspiring. It’s also a brilliant album. Pick this up today and share in the experience.