Walter Trout – The Blues Came Callin’ (2014)

This isn’t an album surrounded by the light-filled redemptive power that it might have had today. After all, when Walter Trout was in sessions for The Blues Came Callin’ last year, the bluesman’s health was failing as he desperately awaited a liver transplant that seemed like it would never come.

Then, less than month before the scheduled June 10, 2014 release of this already completed, scorching new project on Provogue, that miracle happened. Trout is recovering his health, even as fans await what at one point looked like it might be his final musical testament.

The Blues Came Callin,’ then, is a peek inside the roiling emotions of someone facing dark prospects, a certain doom, and it plays like that. Don’t come looking for messages of happy uplift on songs like “Wastin’ Away,” “The World Is Goin’ Crazy (And So Am I)” or “Hard Time,” moments that push back against that sad fate with a ferocious tenacity. Trout, who was in fact wasting away, was determined to go down swinging — and The Blues Came Callin’ is that kind of record.

There are times when doubt creeps in, as on “The Bottom of the River” when Trout becomes entangled in an inexorable current, one that’s dragging him ever deeper. Later, he ends up (quite literally) in the belly of “The Whale.” More often, though, Trout lands blow after blow after blow — with his suddenly fraying voice, with his still muscular guitar — upon the forces working against him.

By the time Trout settles into the impassioned groove of “Nobody Moves Me Like You Do,” a furiously connective assertion of life-long love, it’s easy to see how Trout made it through these unimaginably difficult times. He’s a fighter.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.