Blues guitarist Walter Trout is back with a new album, Battle Scars. It’s his 42nd album if you include his time with Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and his 18th with label Provogue, and is an album some feared may never happen – at the beginning of last year Walter Trout was seriously ill in hospital with liver failure, before he received a life saving transplant. Even then blood loss meant his recovery wasnt quick. Altogether he spent 6 months in hospital, and it’s partly due to the generosity of his fans and supporters which included a fan-organised YouCaring campaign which was set up by Kirby Bryant, the wife of British blues guitarist and Trout protégée Danny Bryant and this alongside various concert tributes raised $245,000 towards his healthcare.
Understandably these experiences have shaped the writing of this new album, and Walter Trout had this to say about some of the songs…
“I was in UCLA for a month, and later at the Nebraska Medical Center for five months in the liver ward — first waiting for the transplant, and then recovering from the surgery,” Trout recounts. “There were days when somebody in the ward died while waiting. I’d hear families out in the hall crying and doctors trying to comfort them. And I knew there was a good chance that I’d be the next one to go. For ‘Omaha.’ I wanted to capture how that felt and sounded.”
“‘Almost Gone’ captures the strength I got from my wife, urging me to go on fighting when I was in pain, and on the verge of death,” says Trout. “I looked up into her eyes, and she gave me the power to carry on. That experience is reflected in my playing on the song.”
With ‘Gonna Live Again,’ “That’s me asking God, ‘Why me?’ When so many people died waiting, why did I survive? I’ve been given a chance to try again — a chance to be a better husband, a better father, and a better man.”
As you can imagine for an album based around his illness, the lyrics are moving and personal. The album kicks off with “Almost gone” and the opening verse really sets the scene “Now I get the feeling/Something’s going wrong/Can’t help but feelin’/I won’t last too long”.
“Omaha” is about his time in Nebraska medical centre and the lyrics refer to needing somthing for the pain, having blood taken, people nearby dying and more – really telling you what it was like for him in his time there. Really though you have to listen to the lyrics on this song – and indeed the entire album to fully appreciate the emotion they carry.
Beautiful emotional lyrics though mean little without the right music, and happily Walter Trout’s guitar playing and songwriting talents haven’t been harmed by his extended illness – the songs on this album are simply superb and as for his guitar work, well that is just amazing.
Walter Trout’s last album – “The Blues came calling” was quite emotional as it was written and recorded as his illness worsened, but this one is even more so. It’s a stunningly good album that all blues fans should listen to.
The final word goes to Walter Trout. “I don’t take this lightly, Marie says that all of the people who donated to our fundraiser for my medical expenses” — which generated more than $245,000 – “bought stock in me and my liver. When I play for them now, I have a responsibility to give back and offer the very best that I have.”
“Battle scars” will be released on 23rd October 2015
1. Almost Gone
2. Omaha Prelude
4. Tomorrow Seems So Far Away
5. Please Take Me Home
6. Playin’ Hideaway
7. Haunted By The Night
8. Fly Away
9. Move On
10. My Ship Came In
11. Cold, Cold Ground
12. Gonna Live Again
Walter Trout will be on tour in the UK in November
Tues 17 November – Stockton, Arc
Weds 18 November – Glasgow, ABC
Fri 20 November – Holmfirth, Picturedrome
Sat 21 November – London, Forum
Tues 24 November – Leamington, Assembly
Weds 25 November – Frome, Cheese & Grain