We continue our VCV miniseries feature on 2010 BMA nominees by looking at a third track from Joe Louis Walker's Between a Rock And The Blues. Walker is nominated for five BMAs, including song and album of the year.
"I'm Tide" and "I've Been Down" are great uptempo, high-energy blues. On "Hallways," Walker slows things down. With a running time of more than seven minutes, he has plenty of room to stretch out and he does but without hogging all the spotlight for himself.
Bruce Katz's piano solo — with lovely organ accents — introduces the long instrumental passage in the song's midsection. Katz plays both chord runs as well as some single-key figures, but brings more of a jazz sensibility than an Otis Spann or Pinetop Perkins blues sound.
Walker takes two solos in the song, an extended one that follows Katz and one after the song's final verse. Both are powered by the tension he creates with his restrained, urgent playing that sounds effortless. "Hallways" isn't played to oppress or overwhelm listeners with premeditation or cheap theatrics. He is pouring his heart out but his guitar keeps a stiff upper lip. The playing isn't weepy or sentimental nor is it forced. It is passionate, confident, and evocative.