With guest appearances from powerhouse singer Beth Hart, Twisted Sister‘s Dee Snider and harmonica virtuoso Will Wilde, blues rock icon Walter Trout is riding a creatively formidable wave and looks to be heading into 2024 with a new album in Broken that’s been declared “raucous, wild and poignant” alongside the announcement of a new UK tour in October.
To be released on 1st March 1 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group, fans got their first taste of what to expect from Trout by way of the single, ‘Bleed’, featuring Will Wilde, and he follows that now with new single, ‘Broken’, featuring powerhouse vocalist Beth Hart.
“I thought my friend Beth Hart could relate to the title track, ‘Broken’,” Trout said of the warrior princess whose fiery vocals coil with his own. “With that song, I was looking at the world – especially what’s going on in the United States – but also thinking about my recovery from the things that happened to me. I had the first verse – ‘Pieces of me seem to break away/I lose a little more every day’. But it was almost too much for me to go back into that shit. So my wife, Marie, was able to help me with the lyrics – and she nailed it. The guitar solo, that’s maybe my favourite on the record. I tracked it with the band, one take. I wanted to see if I could beat it – but they wouldn’t let me!”
All of us are broken. But no one is beyond repair. It’s a philosophy that Walter Trout has lived by during seven volatile decades at the heart of America’s society and blues rock scene. Even now, with the world more fractured than ever – by politics, economics, social media and culture wars – the fabled US blues man’s latest album, Broken, chronicles the bitter schisms of modern life but refuses to succumb to them.
However, as he noted: “I’ve always tried to write positive songs, and this album is not quite that,” the 72-year-old guitar slinger contemplated of an all-original album that rages and soothes. “But I always hold on to hope. I think that’s why I wrote this album.”
Both singles are available digitally, with videos you can check out here at RAMzine.
Tracks featured on the album are: ‘Broken’ featuring Beth Hart, ‘Turn And Walk Away’, ‘Courage In The Dark’, ‘Bleed’ featuring Will Wilde on harmonica, ‘Talkin’ To Myself’, ‘No Magic (In The Street)’, ‘I’ve Had Enough’ featuring Dee Snider, ‘Love Of My Life’, ‘Breathe’ written by Richard Gerstein, ‘Heaven Or Hell’, ‘I Wanna Stay’ and ‘Falls Apart’.
For the last half-century, however rocky his path, hope and resilience has lit the way for Trout. From a traumatic childhood in Ocean City, New Jersey to an audacious move to the West Coast in ’74; auspicious but chaotic sideman shifts with John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton; and raging addictions that somehow never stopped the boogie when he was with Canned Heat in the early-’80s.
Even now, some will point to Trout’s mid-’80s guitar pyrotechnics in the lineup of John Mayall’s legendary Bluesbreakers as his career high point. But for a far greater majority of fans, the blood, heart and soul of his solo career since 1989 is the main event, the blues man’s songcraft always reaching for some greater truth, forever surging forward, never shrinking back.
It’s a creative streak underlined by the guitarist’s regular triumphs at ceremonies, including the Blues Music Awards, SENA European Guitar Awards, British Blues Awards and Blues Blast Music Awards. The iconic British DJ Whispering Bob Harris spoke for millions when he declared Trout “the world’s greatest rock guitarist” in his 2001 autobiography, The Whispering Years.
If he were a less questing artist, Trout could mark time and dine out on those past glories, leaving the polemics and calls-to-arms to a younger generation. But that’s not enough, according to this still-hungry veteran. “I have to grow. I want to be a vital contributing artist. I feel young. I know I’m not. But in my head, I’m still 25, wanting to get better and do something I haven’t done before. I have more to say.”
The Broken album was recorded at Kingsize Soundlabs in LA with producer Eric Corne. “This is our 15th album together,” the bluesman calculated. “Eric and I just have a way of working, man. A friend who came into the studio and watched us said, ‘Man, you guys are like a machine’. It’s unspoken.”
A few collaborators joined Trout for the first time, notably Beth Hart and Dee Snider. “Dee Snider from Twisted Sister put up a live cut of me on his Twitter and said: ‘Listen to this fucking guitar hero’. We started talking and became friends. He came into the studio, and I knew I had to write him a song.
“‘Bleed’ came about when we were pretty much done. My drummer Michael Leasure said to me, ‘Hey, Walter, you played with John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat, this is your 31st album and you’ve never played a boogie. What’s the deal?’ So, I said, ‘Ok, fuck it, let’s do a boogie’. I can kinda play harmonica, but I thought, ‘Let’s elevate this thing’. There’s a young harmonica player in England who’s the best I’ve ever heard, Will Wilde. He has the soul and the power of Paul Butterfield but couples that with blinding virtuoso technique.”
Elsewhere, for the wistful ‘Talkin’ To Myself’, Trout took inspiration from the hits that crackled from AM radio in his youth, and no words were required for the tender instrumental ‘Love Of My Life’ “Of course, it’s about Marie,” his wife, he commented.
With gallows humour, Trout noted that his new album opens with a track called ‘Broken’ and ends with one called ‘Falls Apart’. He can’t deny the link between the personal and the socio-political mood in the air, and as such, between those two bookends are said to lie some of the most raw and bruised songs of his career. Still hope leads the way with the notion that music can help us overcome brokenness – one note at a time.
You can order Broken by clicking here.