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Walt Wilkins

RIVERTOWN (Western Beat) • Walt Wilkins

Just when you think that most records sound mediocre, you hear a great one like this and you know you're right. I'd burned through a half dozen that just didn't get it, so I decided to go work out. Checked the mailbox on the way back to the office, and pulled out Walt Wilkins. "Hot damn," I thought, "I've been delivered."

There are two Nashville guys in particular that winsome intelligent women seem to agree to go crazy on, Steve Earle and Walt Wilkins.

This record is fabulous. I'm through most of it on my first pass, and there hasn’t been an unbeautiful moment. Tim Lorsch is kickin ass on the fiddle every single tune, and contributes a great waltz of his own. Walt's really hand picked a great bunch of players, and they play like brothers. If you knew Walt, you'd know that's the kind of thing he inspires.

Co-producer and superb bassist Mark Prentice is in the body and spirit of every track, and all are much the richer for it. In the honestly generous liner notes, Walt thanks him for his vast talents and great strength. I'd like to add that he is also a man of amazing humor.

There's so much beauty in every song, it's full of a genuine and generous character that is the artist. These aren't just songs, they are Walt Wilkins. How does he do that? I would say that he writes from himself more than about himself. He's in the stories, but he doesn't paint himself as the hero of them. He saves that for someone else, and you rightfully feel like he's singing the song right to you. And I think he is.

Rick Plant on guitar and Mike Daly on steel are a songwriter's dream. Rick's been out on bass with Buddy and Julie Miller a lot this year, but is always in Walt's band when he's in town. Many of the great players on the record have been playing live with Walt for five years, and that's kind of unusual in Nashville, where there are so many great players with ever-shifting agendas. Rev. Billy Block is on the skins for several tunes and usually is Walt's live backbeat, but he shares tracks on the record with other great drummers: John Gardner, Tommy Hardin, and Vinnie Santoro (he and the producer are the rhythm section for Air Parma). A number of other world class players make cameo appearances. Most of the songs were co-written with a cast of killers, my personal favorites were with Carter Wood and Naoise Sheridan. There's nothing we don't love about this disc, and we recommend you get it immediately. • FG

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