MUSTANG ISLAND (Hwy 29) Walt Wilkins
A Texas hill-country prince, and one hell of a shitkicking poet. There's a humanity in the songs of Walt Wilkins that does my soul good. And I know the cat well enough to tell you that he does not reserve it for the sufficiently cool, he spreads it around pretty even, like.
Wilkins is a prolific writer in Nashville, and Mustang Island represents his favorite songs from his work since the last recording (see our review of Rivertown), plus a cover or two, with a cast of the usual friendly suspects, who happen to be session aces. We always enjoy Rick Plant on guitar, since one is more likely to see him playing bass with Buddy and Julie Miller the last few years. Our friend and co-producer Tim Lorsch is on fiddle, octave fiddle, and mandolin, he never fails to bring a unique sensibility (and the chops to back it up) to a show or especially a recording. (Tim and Walt are actually doing a lot of producing for other songwriters these days as well, you could find out more about that from Tim Lorsch at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Hit writer Liz Rose and Walt wrote a couple, including the single that's climbing the TX charts, "I Chose This Road," I sure love that song. And I dig the changes in "Tonight I Might," written with another stellar fella, Danny Flowers, who penned "Tulsa Time." Danny plays wah wah guitar on a Michael Nesmith parable called "Grand Ennui," that sounds really cool against Mike Daly's heavenly steel guitar. Along celestial lines, Walt's wife Tina sings excellent harmony on a trio of tunes. One of them is the wonderful Billy Montana co-write, "We've All Got Our Reasons."
"Someone Somewhere Tonight" is a huge song, his co-writer Davis Raines is a killer, a great writer who's yet to get his due, but it's coming. "Wrapped" is a co-write with TX legend Pat Green, who cut it on his big "Wave on Wave" record. It features Walt's talented engineer Bill McDermott on Irish Bazouki and the singular Britt Savage on harmony. "Long Winter" and "Privileges of Youth" with Jaime Richards (whom the artist calls "the greatest living Country singer") are superb country songs, and this disc just goes on and on with great songs and deep writers. Walt's tunes are elemental, they're like the wind and the river, and the rain.
Naoise Sheridan co-wrote my favorite on Rivertown, and there's another great one here, "When There's No Money Coming In." On the classic Kevin Welch/Kostas song "One Way Rider," Roxie Dean sings a lovely backup track. The closer is a touching ballad called "A Hand to Hold On To" and there were so many co-writers and publishers that they ran out of room in the booklet to get it all in. Sounds like Walt Wilkins to me.
Like real country music? Well here it is. Big and beautiful as the place from whence he comes. Clips on the Listen page will convince you to buy it, here. FG