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Jason Walker And The Last Drinks - Ashes And Wine

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 6 / 12 / 2003



Jason Walker And The Last Drinks - Ashes And Wine
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD

intro

Strong new album from acclaimed musician and author Jason Walker, who proves himself with this second solo offering to be a worthy potnetial successor to Ryan Adams


I’ve still got a lot of time for Ryan Adams. His work with Whiskeytown and his first solo album, ‘Heartbreaker’, touched me as they did many others. But I have to admit to being a little disappointed by his work since and especially his latest album, ‘Rock’n’ Roll’ although his star has risen again slightly with the 2 ‘Love Is Hell’ EPs. Not least because he got his own way and managed to get his record company to release the songs after a struggle. Unfortunately Jason Walker doesn’t command the attention Mr Adams gets in the press although he should; his first album ‘Stranger To Someone’ and the book he wrote on Gram Parsons, ‘God’s Own Singer’, are both excellent. And with this, his second release, Walker has made the album which I thought Adams would deliver. If he ever lends an ear to these songs, I’m sure Adams is going to wish he had been able to present such a strong collection of songs to his record label. There is a lot of the swagger and attitude which Adams brings to his songs scattered throughout these 12 tracks, all written by Walker this time. Good as his interpretations of Freddy Johnson’s ‘The Lucky One’, Springsteen’s ‘I Wish I Were Blind’ and the other covers were on his debut, the originals here hold up well against them. Having written only 4 of the songs on that debut it seems amazing that this time Walker has come up with 12 originals (3 co-written with producer Michael Carpenter) of such high quality and which span a variety of styles while always keeping that alt. country flavour. Maybe he has a new found confidence in his song writing now, maybe he had more time (most of these songs Walker wrote while travelling), or whatever, but if Walker continues writing like this I guess we can look forward to future albums also entirely composed by the man, and less of his cover versions. Joined on this album by Worth Wagers (Cow Lily) on guitar, Andrew Lay on drums, Brian Crouch on keyboards (both ex-Golden Rough), Dave Keys on bass and with Michael Carpenter playing just drums this time (and the occasional guitar part) this album does sound more like a group effort than ‘Stranger To Someone’ but it is really Walker’s show. He writes memorable tunes and his lyrics draw you in with his tales of broken relationships and characters who are never less than interesting. But it’s that voice which holds the attention from the first play. At times he sounds like Jagger ( from the time when Jagger meant something), but then there’s a likeness to Steve Earle which also comes through at times while the band sound like a mixture of the Faces, the Stones and Crazy Horse. As I said, just like I expected from Ryan Adams. ‘Dissatisfaction’, the third song in, is the most Stonesy influenced track here, while ‘Letdown’, one of the co-writes with Carpenter, runs a close second. ‘Please Save All Your Tears’ would not shame any Neil Young and Crazy Horse album. But for my money it’s the slower tracks like ‘Last Drinks’ where Walker’s vocals really come into their own. Rough and tender at the same time and full of emotion Walker really sounds at home on these more subtle songs. He also proves on this song that his guitar playing is something else. The opening 30 seconds of ‘Last Drinks’ is enough to make one hit the replay button and that’s before Walker has even opened his mouth. ‘Helpless Guy (Every Moment With You)’ is another ballad which really shines out; Walker’s vocals are heartbreaking while Graham Griffith adds some touching pedal steel. But every song has something different to offer; ‘Listening Out For Our Song’ has some gorgeous Hammond tremolo organ courtesy of Brian Crouch and again is one of the slower songs on the album whereas Walker’s vocals and guitar are simply outstanding. Then just to throw everyone off track the final song, 'Looking Out', is totally unlike anything which has gone before on the album. With pedal Theremin, a moog solo (which might possibly also be responsible for the mellotron sounds as well) and some strange vocals from Walker it’s an oddly psychedelic track which works really well and leaves the listener wanting more of the same. This is a major step forward from Walker and the giant leap he has made in his song writing was totally unexpected. I had him down as an excellent interpreter of other people’s songs; wrong again! Start looking over your shoulder Ryan, there’s a new(ish) kid in town.



Track Listing:-
1 You're On Your Own
2 Angel
3 Dissatisfaction
4 Listening Out For Our Song
5 Helpless Guy
6 Last Drinks
7 Letdown
8 Not Only Love
9 Please Save Your Tears
10 Dead Leaves
11 Drown In That River
12 Looking Out


Label Links:-
http://www.laughingoutlaw.com.au/
https://www.facebook.com/laughingoutlawrecordsandmanagement
https://laughingoutlaw.bandcamp.com/



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