|Never one to be pigeon holed, Glasgow-born guitarist Wily (pronounced Whiley) Bo Walker is a solo artist, songwriter, composer and performer and gifted storyteller, who is one of a very few independent blues artists from the U.K. to be inducted in to the U.S. Blues Hall of Fame, pushed the boundaries with his latest release “Almost Transparent Blues” working across many styles and genres including, blues, gospel, soul, classic R&B, jazz, rock, and Americana. The new eleven song collection reflects the renowned career, spanning more than 40 years, of a man, who has performed worldwide with many award-winning musicians and been featured on hundreds of recordings.
The album opens with Southern soul rocker ‘Chattahoochee Coochee Man,’ a smokin’ horn infused boogie that hits a peak crescendo with an ultra-high note from trumpet man Tony Gorruso. Walker then takes on the classic Fenton Robinson blues lament ‘Loan Me A Dime,’ pouring his very heart and soul into the mournful lyric until Ed Brayshaw takes over and deals out a Gary Moore styled roaring guitar solo over the minor chord tango. The southern gothic ‘I Want To Know,’ is a mysterious tale of a lost love, passion and desire, punctuated with another gritty guitar solo. The four on the floor American rocker ‘Storm Warning,’ jumps out with a heavy lead and a solid piano anchor that firms up the “Grapes of Wrath” storyline, cementing the Bruce Springsteen feel.
The mostly acoustic ‘Motel Blues’ has a Steve Earl type of vibe with Dobro and mandolin underpinning the tale of a lonely troubadour hoping for one night of redemption. Walker then puts on his Rat Pack show biz hat for the swinging big band love song ‘Did I Forget,’ featuring a growling Baritone sax solo from Ron Bertolet on a tune Walker describes as “his drunken tale of love and loss.” Brayshaw again kicks down the doors with his opening lead on the bump and grind blues ‘Fool For You,’ exemplifying how his and Walker’s partnership demonstrate a mastery of British Power Blues. The album then takes a trip way down to the bayou for the Caribbean infused Voodoo blues ‘Walking With The Devil,’ with the percolating beats of Eran Asias spiced with howling slide guitar from Graham Hine over Tom Welch’s undulating bass line, while Walker recounts how the devil stole his lady love.
Walker then steps in to the shoes of John Robert “Joe” Cocker, OBE. For the blues-eyed soul masterpiece ‘Long Way To Heaven’ a full horn and string section, The Brown Sisters of Chicago and muscular rhythm section back his wailing baritone like mad dogs and Englishmen. Walker then downshifts and tears his heart out on the jazzy torch song ‘Moon Over Indigo,’ while trumpeter Kenny Rampton reflects his pain in sorrowful tones with the Cenovia Cummins String quartet providing an authentic backdrop to the melodrama.
Leaving no stone unturned Walker digs even deeper with Tom Waits’ gut-wrenching angst on the whiskey drenched blues of desperation ‘Light At The End OF The Tunnel,’ showing just how lowdown a man can go before reaching the breaking point. “Almost Transparent Blues” from Wily Bo Walker is an exercise in the thespian arts of a songwriter, vocal master and storyteller par excellence.
Rick J Bowen – Five-time Blues Writer winner and KBA Award recipient from the Washington Blues Society
From his New-York based blues and soul review productions and recording projects to his UK based, New Orleans themed ”Rattlin’ Bone Theatre Show,” and from his solo acoustic swamp ‘n’ stomp shows through to his stripped-down four-piece rockin’ blues and Americana themed Wily Bo Walker Band, Wily Bo proves why he has been recognized as an artist who can twist genres into new forms.