Monday, May 05, 2014

Toby Walker - What You See Is What You Get

Toby Walker is amongst the finest living solo blues guitarists alive today and he has a new self-produced recording which displays his considerable talents, What You See Is What You Get. It is a marvelous recording with Walker employing a variety of guitars and even playing slide on an electric as he plays in a variety of older blues styles covering songs from Big Joe Williams, Rube Lacy, Louisiana Red, Mississippi John Hurt, Rube Lacy, Blind Willie Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson and Blind Willie McTell as well as performs several originals.

Walker’s gravelly vocal style does strain sometime and is less convincing to these ears on the opening Baby Please Don’t Go Do and Blind Willie Johnson’s God Moves On The Water, than it is on the able interpretation of Louisiana Red’s Dead Stray Dog, with some lively picking and slide. There is a jaunty Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, and a nice interpretation of Statesboro Blues, with splendid twelve-string playing. It is a delight to hear someone revive Rube Lacy’s Ham Hound Crave, with some guitar in the manner of such folks as Charlie McCoy and others. The rendition of John Hurt’s Got the Blues, Can't Be Satisfied is delightful.

Originals include a terrific finger style guitar feature dedicated to the legendary Blind Blake Putting On the Blakes, which cleverly mixes together pieces from various Blake recordings into a marvelous whole. I am unfamiliar with his previously recording but his playing is stunning here. Similar styled guitar is heard on the humorous Everything I Want, where he sings about chewing off more than he can financially handle. This has a fun lyric with marvelous playing. There is more wonderful playing on “Highway,” with a bit of country-folk flavor, while  driving slide playing on the amusing Put Something Stupid On The Tube, suggests it could be a vehicle for a group playing southern rock or country-rock.

The strong performances on What You See Is What You Get, make this a release to appeal to anyone who enjoys acoustic blues. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone playing better solo guitar today. In addition to music on the CD, a link is provided that gives access for three more downloads, 4 videos of interviews; stories and songs; 3 video guitar lessons; and more. More information on Toby Walker and this CD can be found on

I received my review copy from Toby Walker. Here is a video of Toby providing a bit of instruction on Mississippi John Hurt’s Got the Blues, Can't Be Satisfied.

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