Walter Trout - 'Battle Scars'

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Walter Trout - 'Battle Scars'

One of the most honest narrations of life and near death that you will ever hear.

The thing about the Blues is that it refers to the human condition, and usually at the lowest ebb. Bluesmen write about the angst they know and 'Battle Scars' is probably one of the most honest narrations of life and near death that you will ever hear. Less than two years ago Walter Trout suffered a disastrous liver failure, his wife Marie documented the story in real time on Facebook and it was literally at the eleventh hour, when death in the next forty-eight hours seemed likely, that a donor was found. During the op the surgeons played Trout's music and the fans raised $245,000 in a matter of weeks to help pay for Trout's long aftercare that was not covered by his insurance. This wasn't just Walter's battle; it was everyone around him fighting on his behalf too.

So, it is no surprise that 'Battle Scars' is Trout's musical diary and testament to this time. But don't expect this to be a melancholic, dark album. This records the moments of despair and fear but mostly it is uplifting, full of hope, love, gratitude and courage. 'Almost Gone' delivers itself in an "I'm back!" kind of way, a song of survival and will power, driven by some Popper-esque harp. 'Tomorrow Seems So Far Away' is a more traditional Southern Blues offering. 'Please Take Me Home' is a loving ballad for his wife, a two-sided song, one of gratitude to her, the other a heartfelt plea to just "go home". 'Playin' Hideaway', an upbeat Southern Boogie is joyful and pacey. Anyone who has laid awake contemplating the demons and fear the night hours bring will feel an affinity with 'Haunted By The Night'. 'Gonna Live Again' is a pure Appalachian Blues statement of intent and the guitar is sublime.

For fans of Walter Trout's music, this is a fine album of Blues songs, his guitar playing is what we know and love, full of feel and technicality. But the true depth of this album is the story it tells and how close it came to never existing. It is the story of death and life, the lyrics could so easily be syrupy and sentimental but they aren't. "I hear the angels calling, but I can't stand the sound" (taken from 'Cold, Cold Ground') will become a battle cry to anyone who has faced or is facing medical hardships.

To be honest, I suspect everyone would have been forgiving if this one hadn't been a great album, but the fact of the matter is it's a wonder, in every sense.

Helen Bradley Owers

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