Personnel: Seth Walker (vocals, guitar); Dave Gross (guitar); Stephanie Ezerman, Karen Collins, Jennie Brunner, Carole Shoaf (violin); Alexander Ezerman, Scott Walker (cello); Matt Glassmeyer (horns); Jano Rix (piano, organ, Wurlitzer organ, drums, percussion, background vocals); Kevin Anker (piano, organ, Wurlitzer organ); Chris Wood , Myles Weeks (acoustic bass); Steve Mackey (electric bass); Derrek Phillips (drums, percussion); Oliver Wood, Maureen Murphy, Dylis Croman, Jason Eskridge (background vocals).
Recording information: Electric Thunder, Nashville, TN; Fat Rabbit Studios, Glen Ridge, NJ; Mr. Lemmons Studio, Nashville, TN; Rubber Room, Chapel Hill, NC; Southern Ground Studios, Nashville, TN.
After a series of releases spanning nearly 20 years (as of 2016) that have branched out from blues into R&B, country, pop, gospel, jazz, and more, singer, songwriter, and guitarist Seth Walker offers perhaps his most eclectic album to date with Gotta Get Back. Walker explains in the liner notes that he looked back to his early childhood for what got him excited about music in the first place for the album, and that family played an important part. The record includes contributions from his father on cello and string arrangements, and from his mother and sister on violin, as well as from familiar collaborators such as the Wood Brothers. Drummer Jano Rix of that group produced the LP, which was recorded at various studios in Nashville, North Carolina, and New Jersey, including Zac Brown's Southern Ground. The opener "High Time" kicks things off with some New Orleans funk. Precise vocal harmonies and an arrangement with a lot of instruments but plenty of breathing room mark the jaunty tune. String arrangements are best spotlighted on album highlight "The Sound of Your Voice." A wistful entry that opens with just acoustic guitar, strings, and Walker's soulful vocals, it goes on to add bass, drums, and organ, but exposes elegant songcraft rather than a focus on any regional style. In contrast, "Back Around" is a campfire gospel tune with handclaps, organ, piano, and bass. Walker's guitar work is in the mix throughout the album but with little soloing. It's perhaps best featured on the grimy NOLA entry "Fire in the Belly." Speaking of fire in the belly, whatever joy the musician may have connected with while revisiting inspirations can be heard on Gotta Get Back. For a guy who brings warmth and enthusiasm to all of his work, this is a notably feel-good set. ~ Marcy Donelson