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Verse Chorus Verse: Joe Louis Walker – “I’m Tide”

The deadline to finalize my ballot for the 2010 Blues Music Awards is fast approaching and I still have a staggering amount of music to consider.  I'm down to the final month and I still haven't come close to hearing all of it, to say nothing of actively listening to it, so I'm going to multi-task.  For the next month, you should count on getting a heavy dose of blues in your Verse Chorus Verse.  We'll be talking about songs from the records and artists who are nominated and we'll begin with a song nominated for Song Of The Year from an album nominated for Album of the Year. 

The most distinctive characteristics of "I'm Tide" are the Prince-like vocal (think Sign O' The Times-era Prince) and the searing lead guitar of Joe Louis Walker.  He lays down some mean licks, but it's the tone he generates that provides most of the heat to those leads.  His laconic vocal is pleasant and inviting, not trying to impress or oppress listeners with how blue he can sound.

"I'm Tide" is also set apart by having a rhythmic structure that isn't the skeletal remains of a blues riff that has been used by every would-be bluesman in every dive bar across the known universe.  Walker draws from contemporary and traditional blues elements as well as some sweet blasts of gospel organ.  The clever word play — this is a song about fatigue rather than my favorite college football team or a popular brand of laundry detergent — gives a fresh coat of paint to lyrical themes that have been worn to death not only in the blues but also pop music as a whole.  

It's too early in the series and the process to announce my vote.  Just as in sports you can't win a game in the first quarter, but you can lose one.  Joe Louis Walker hasn't cinched my vote for song or album of the year, but he's put himself in contention.

About Josh Hathaway

  • http://dagoddess.com Joanie

    Having had the pleasure of seeing Walker perform, I can honestly say how convincing he is in concert. The intensity is more intense, the subtleties are even more subtle, and the joy radiating from this man is impossible to ignore.

    The songs from the album (okay, CD if you must) are well-crafted and elicit a response from the listener every time.

    You can’t go wrong picking this one.

  • Josh Hathaway

    I’ve listened to 3/5 of the nominated albums and I’ll be getting my hands on the last two nominated in the Album of the Year category. I’ll wait until I’ve heard all 5 to weigh in, but I’m really pleased with this from JLW. Whether he gets the vote on my ballot or not, he’s found a new fan.

    I’m envious that you’ve seen him live. I love artists who are able to create new dimensions for their music when performing and it sounds to me like Walker does just that. He’s going on my “Must See” list!

  • http://dagoddess.com Joanie

    Keep him on your list. Make it happen. It’s worth it. And listen, you’ve seen artists I haven’t seen…envy me only a little. :)

    Can’t wait to send you some new music when you’re done with this. I got some doozies for ya!

  • http://dagoddess.com Joanie

    Now the next question becomes, how are each of his songs holding up against and with each other? How are they holding up to the other nominees?

  • Josh Hathaway

    Right, yes. Good question. I haven’t assembled enough of the nominees in each of these categories to start making the comparative declarations (although I’m getting there in several). In the coming days and weeks, I’ll start breaking things down by category and giving some hints as to where my final ballot will end.