Walter Trout: Battle Scars Review

Battle Scars is the latest release from blues veteran Walter Trout and, with this record, Trout hearkens back to his traditionalist roots while employing some of the fuzzier, crunching guitar effects that have become ear candy for the new generation who count among their darlings such practitioners as The Black Keys and The Alabama Shakes. Beginning with a programmed, marauding chord, “Almost Gone” offers a sparkle of cymbal action and the kind of roadhouse harmonica that flavors this song with honky-tonk Springsteen. “Omaha Prelude/Omaha” is a bit confounding as the opening to this track (clocking in at a hair over thirty seconds) offers nothing altogether deserving of a separate entry other than the confused cacophony of continuous sirens, but the song itself is a thoughtful analysis of an emptied life and finds itself populated both through mood and characters by the destitution of both means and the soul.

“Tomorrow Seems So Far Away” begins with a fun, lively intro although the ache of expectation and deferred closure are picked up in the extended, sliding guitar solo. Trout continues to frisk an El Paso jukebox for inspiration with “Please Take Me Home,” a song whose initial melody and obvious tone strongly suggest the influence of Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind:” Trout flips his muse into the lamenting plea of a wounded heart. A significant U-turn in mood, “Playin’ Hideaway” portrays the selective isolation of a hard-hearted woman. The universality of feeling comes through in this needlessly apostrophized driving tune that sees the speaker running like hell down the highway towards the farthest possible exit only to find the inevitable confluence of exodus and destination that concludes every attempt to outpace personal history.

Trout seemingly realizes this futility and idealizes the flight in the romantic “Fly Away” whose catchy main riff hooks the listener before thrilling with the dynamic energy and smooth, agile style of Joe Satriani in its slick solo. “Move On” has a crunchy, but laid back intro that finds the speaker reflecting on the span of his woes, warning “I’ve been to hell and back/I don’t recommend it, Jack” and “My Ship Came In” is the would-be tale of redemption that the song’s speaker could trumpet zealously were it not for the faults of timing and circumstance that left him standing, forlorn and forgotten, in an empty harbor.

A cruising, teary guitar introduces “Cold, Cold Ground,” a song about the approaching close of time and that want to drag the speaker away from the tethers of an incomplete existence. “Gonna Live Again” is the recalcitrant, acoustic answer to the previous song’s harrowing: an echoing promise to redeem a weary life. Battle Scars, as a retributive whole, is encapsulated by this last trilogy of songs of life and death.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Almost Gone
– Omaha
– Playin’ Hideaway
– Cold, Cold Groun

The Big Hit

– Almost Gone

Review by McKinnie Sizemore

Buy the album: Amazon

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One Response to “Walter Trout: Battle Scars Review”

  1. Bluehand says:

    This is 10/10 release, without any shadow of a doubt. Never been Trout fan, but I can’t remember the last time an album affected me the way this one has. You’re taken on a journey through Walters darkest hours and it’s a very powerful piece of work with some masterful playing and some very inspiring song writing. It’s a blues rock masterpiece.

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