Joe Louis Walker has given us another cracking album, after 2012’s much-acclaimed Hellfire. In Hornet’s Nest Walker and his band are in fine, fine form with a hugely entertaining album of nine originals and three covers. Musically we get a set of highly enjoyable blues-rock, which punches you right in the face from the first note of the first track, with a nice sprinkle of gospel here and there. Right at the end of the album, after all the strutting and bombast (in the nicest possible way, of course!) from Walker and the band, we get the pure gospel of “Keep the Faith.” Introduced by unmistakable big gospel piano chords, Walker launches into his sermon, helped by Hammond organ and beautiful close harmony backing vocals. The music reaches right inside your chest and twists your innards – like all good gospel should.
Keep the faith, Walker says. Keep loving those around you is his message here – “love is the strength of our lives.” Think of a mother’s love, he says – “a job that’s never, never done.” That’s the sort of love that sustains us. Of course, “Everyone gonna lose their way some time;” but there’s always the hope of redemption, of home-coming, if love remains to light our way back. “They said you can’t you can’t go back home again,” says Walker, “But I say they are wrong.”
You can’t help starting to think about the lost son story that Jesus told. You know, the one who tells his father that he wishes he were dead and could he have his inheritance now please? After which he heads off to party until things go horribly wrong and he ends up at the bottom of the heap. But, as Walker says, “the light that shows the way back home always shines,” and the prodigal returned to a warm welcome from his dad. So warm in fact that the village head-man, who normally just walked around rather sedately, left all diginity behind and, quite shockingly to the other on-looking villagers, hoicked up his robes so he could run to meet the returning son.
Love – the light that shows the way home. As St. Paul said – “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” I guess every prodigal who’s found their way back home would agree – someone believed in them, loved them, welcomed them back. “Love is the strength of our lives.”