Saturday, January 5, 2013

Charles Walker Band Resouled! CD Review

This CD review was originally published in the September 13, 2012 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Charles Walker Band – Resouled!

Self Release

9 tracks / 56:09

Charles Walker is a man of many talents, and highlights of his skills include not only songwriting, but also expertise on the keyboards and saxophone, and he shows a real flair for improvisation on both instruments. Over the years he has recorded six CDs and has led the Milwaukee-based Charles Walker Band since 2004. Their impressive gig schedule has resulted in the production of Resouled!, their latest release. At its root this is blues and blues-based music, but as Charles says, “This CD reflects the band’s eight year evolution, blurring the styles of soul. I stopped worrying about the blues and focused on groove.” He is not joking, and in addition to the blues you will hear funk and jazz influences throughout this album.

Resouled! was recorded during two shows at the Hideaway Saloon in Louisville, Kentucky; it includes nine tracks, which are mostly originals with just one cover tune: Muddy Waters’ “Rock Me Baby.” The personnel for this effort include Porsche Carmon with the lead vocals (and congas), Charles Walker on keyboards and sax, Brad Karas on bass guitar, Demetris Vance on drums and special guest Dan Kennedy on the guitar. Besides his bass duties, Karas also took care of the sound and was in charge of mixing and mastering for this CD.

And this is truly a live CD, so it is raw and vibrant, and not nearly as slick as a studio-produced release. You will hear some 60-cycle hum here and there and a little of the banter from Porsche and Charles, as well as responses from the audience. I found that with the way this album was mixed I lose a lot of the bass and dynamics when I listen to it in my car (even though it has a very good audio system), but it sounds great through my home system or headphones. I guess I had to lose most of my background noise so all of the nuances could be heard.

The first track on Resouled! is “Used and Defiant,” which is also the song they used to kick off their set, and this funk tune really gets things moving in a hurry. As the vintage-sounding keys play over Karas’ popping bass and Vance’s rock-solid drumming, Carmon welcomes the Louisville audience and immediately lets them hear a sample of her vocal range and strong voice before turning things over to Walker for some impressive tenor saxophone improvisation. The band is very tight throughout, and they do marvelous job holding together the syncopated bridges after the solo.

There is a neat 1970s vibe on the next track, “Exquisite Soul,” thanks to the electric piano sound that Walker choses for his keys. This original song has a neat (but too short) guitar solo from Kennedy along with a very catchy melody and fun/sexy lyrics. And the sexy theme carries over to the next track, “Funky Sexy” which hearkens back to Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,” the ultimate passion song. Of course Walker’s version takes its own direction, but this song is still sexy as anything…

“Rock Me Baby” lets Kennedy cut loose on the guitar and we get to hear a bit more of what Carmon can do with that fabulous voice of hers. Not to mention how cool it is to hear a woman sing this Muddy Waters classic, as this gives this song a whole new meaning to me. Walker gets in a good solo in on this one too, and Vance improves on the original backline with a little more aggressive drumming than usually is heard on this cover.

This project wraps up with a bang as the band hammers out “Crawlin Home,” a raucous saxophone-infused instrumental. This piece is a clinic on what a blues horn should sound like, and Charles has some fabulous interplay with the Kennedy. And you will find that this mixes well with the tasteful walking bass part and tons of crash cymbals. But this finale left me with one question: who is playing that thunderous Hammond while Walker is tending to the horn?

Resouled! is a great showcase of the Charles Walker Band’s live show, and it really emphasizes their enthusiasm and love for the music. Looking at their schedule, it appears that they mostly tour the Midwest, but they are making it a little further out west around New Year’s, so if they do get out your way it would be super cool to catch one of their shows. I am going to keep an eye on their schedule and hope they make it out to Southern California sometime soon.


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