Luke Winslow-King, If These Walls Could Talk (Ghost River Records)
Luke Winslow-King’s seventh full-length album has to be one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve heard this year. Chock-full of good tunes, sunny arrangements and top-notch musicianship, this is bluesy Americana at its best.
If you’re not familiar with Luke Winslow-King, he’s a native of Michigan with a classical musical background who made the transition into jazz, blues and Americana. He’s been playing gigs since he was fifteen and during his professional career has lived in New Orleans and Europe. A multi-instrumentalist, but best known as a guitarist, Winslow-King is a fine singer and accomplished song-writer.
He definitely knows how to write a good tune – check out his previous albums – but If These Walls Could Talk takes his song-writing to a new level.
The album kicks off with Slow Sunday June, a clean guitar riff leading into a catchy tune where Winslow-King is aided and abetted by Sensational Barnes Brothers – a fabulous gospel duo from Memphis Tennessee, consisting of Chris and Courtney Barnes. Before the song’s done, we get a tasty guitar solo from long-time musical collaborator Roberto Luti, which leaves us hoping for more of the same in the rest of the album. Luti is an outstanding guitarist, understated, never dominating and always enhancing the feel of the song.
Honeycomb continues the upbeat feel – it’s music for a summer picnic or drive with the top of the convertible down, as is Don’t Tell Me I Don’t Love You.
The title track, If These Walls Could Talk relaxes things a bit, a slower tempo love song that kept making me think of Don McClean. It’s a lovely song and has some cool slide guitar. We get to enjoy some more slide guitar on Lissa’s Song, a quite beautiful and moving musical tribute written by Winslow-King and Roberto Luti that honours the life of the late “Washboard” Lissa Driscoll, a New Orleans street singer and former wife of Roberto.
Winds of Aragon begins as a cool acoustic song and builds slowly to a tuneful rocking number that sweeps away our cares with the lyric “I don’t worry any more…no, no. no, don’t you worry anymore.” It’s one of my favourites on the album.
Love at First Sight, a slow, bluesy song, again with Luti’s luscious slide guitar, features the Rev Charles Hodges, Hammond B3 organist who has appeared on records by the likes of Al Green, James Carr, Albert Collins and Boz Scaggs. The album finishes with the lovely Leaves Turn Brown, where we get an extended instrumental intro, and is a delightful way to finish what is an exceptional album.
Luke Winslow-King, along with Roberto Luti, has given us ten original songs, all ones you want to hear again and again. These are songs to cheer the heart, lift the spirits, make you smile and get you tapping your feet (or maybe even dancing). Highly recommended.