October 29, 2002
Blues, Soul-Blues, Modern Electric Blues

Album Review

As one of the few roots bluesmen not afraid to experiment with different musical forms, Joe Louis Walker takes a substantial departure from the rest of his catalog on his third album in little over a year. Pasa Tiempo maintains Walker's blues roots, but infuses them with jazz, R&B and soul -- most underpinned by a strong Latin vibe, as the title indicates -- with stirring results. Much of Walker's contributions to this project rely on his gospel-hued vocals, with his guitar taking a decidedly supporting role. Certainly early Van Morrison is an influence, and the disc's opening track is a stirring soul-drenched version of the Irishman's "Sweet Thing." The singer/songwriter/R&B/jazz direction continues with covers of Boz Scaggs' "I've Got Your Love," John Hiatt's "Love Like Blood," and Otis Redding's "Direct Me," all relatively obscure tracks from these artists that Walker makes his own. Guest musicians like saxist Ernie Watts -- who turns in a tour de force performance on Walker's nearly eight-minute soul/gospel tune "You Get What You Give" -- trumpeter Wallace Roney, along with the vibrant percussion section of legendary Santana/George Duke drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, and Master Henry Gibson, push all the right Latin/jazz buttons. The bluesiest turn on the album comes with an instrumental slide guitar dominated take on Elmore James' "It Hurts Me Too." Interestingly, although a fine performance, it's the one track that doesn't mesh with the overall vibe. Originals such as the light, loungy cha cha of the instrumentals "Barcelona" and the title track -- both featuring Roney's magnificent horn, really push Walker on a path listeners haven't heard from him previously. Even the Booker T. groove of the set, closing oldie "You Can't Sit Down," works, if only as one of the few showcases for Walker's guitar. It all adds up to a successful side project that will please the artist's old fans along with hopefully expanding his audience. Pasa Tiempo is a unique entry into Joe Louis Walker's already eclectic catalog, proving that bluesmen can work in other genres while maintaining the integrity and enthusiasm of their musical love.
Hal Horowitz, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Sweet Thing
  2. Direct Me
  3. Barcelona
  4. I've Got Your Love
  5. It Hurts Me Too
  6. Love Like Blood
  7. Pasa Tiempo
  8. You Get What You Give
  9. You Can't Sit Down
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