Friday, July 20, 2012

CD Review - Joe Walsh Analog Man

I have been on vacation off the grid for the last two and a half weeks and wow, did a lot of stuff in the world of music happen - the biggest being Jon Lord passing away.

I will have some thoughts on that soon, but for now I had the chance to bang out a review of the new Joe Walsh album, Analog Man:

If you had told me that a solo album by a long creatively inactive, newly sober Joe Walsh would be the surprise of the year, I would have told you you were nuts. But Analog Man, Walsh's first new album in 20 years, is a real treat.

From the wry witty lyrics to the tasty sparse slide work, Analog Man picks right up where Walsh left off.

In fact many of these 12 songs would slide nicely onto The Smoker You Drink or But Seriously Folks from his 70s catalog.

Of course, topically, Walsh is breaking some new ground as a sober writer. He has always written about himself or his perspectives on life. Now he has a new palate to draw from.

The songs One Day At A Time, Wrecking Ball and the gorgeous Family run the gamut from the struggles of turning his broken life around to how blessed Walsh feels with his sobriety and where his life is at right now.

The songs Analog Man and the awesome Lucky That Way are cut from the cloth of Life's Been Good, but on Lucky That Way, Walsh has many decades to reflect on.

So where before he sang about having an office and gold records on the wall, now he sings about needing a 10 year old smart ass to show him how to connect to the Web.

The album is mostly song-oriented and many of these tunes would play well on the radio or on an iTunes mix: all the tracks I mentioned already plus Band Played On and High Roller Baby.

Shockingly, producer Jeff Lynne for the most part does not make Analog Man sound like a Traveling Wilburys album.

There are some songs on Analog Man that are crafted to showcase Walsh's fantastic guitar work, which is often overlooked in my opinion. The guy does not waste a note, whether in his lyrical lead playing or his bluesy slide work.

So for example, Walsh delivers the 2 minute tune Funk 50, a clear sequel to the James Gang's Funk 49. The story is that producer Lynne asked for something LIKE Funk 49 so Walsh reprised it. It's a good tune where Joe says he's going to 'show everybody I'm back!' in between funky leads and licks.

The tunes India (which starts out a bit like AC/DC's Thunderstruck) is a good instrumental ripper that has some great playing. Fishbone is a blues-based slow burner jam that would probably slay live. All in all Walsh gives us a good album here. Well worth the wait!

So good for you Joe Walsh. You gave us all a gift of this great album and more of your unique styling to rock out and smile to! Perfect for the summertime!

Check out these live videos from a show at The Troubadour prior to the album coming out. Joe's voice is strong here! Love it...

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