Seth Walker gets back to his roots on his ninth release, Gotta Get Back. Fatigued and road weary from over 15 years of bringing his music to the people, Seth decided to retreat to the comfort of his home and family in North Carolina to recharge and refocus. While there, Walker teamed up with his musician dad (an accomplished fiddler who contributed the string arrangements) and other extended family members to make music from the heart. The result is a stirring and richly textured Soul/Americana (“Soulicana?”) album that sounds as if it could be the musical love child of Harry Connick Jr. and Al Green.
“High Time” opens with Hammond organ and drums. Sounding like a call to attention at a church service, the music quickly shifts to a slinky, funk groove. Betraying the opening chords, Walker sings, “It’s high time we had a high time together.” Walker confidently croons this opening party anthem which sets the tone for the album.
“Fire In The Belly,” has a sleek, bluesy, Robert Cray vibe, complete with guitar solo and passionate lyrics. Seth cranks up the heat singing “I’ve got fire in the belly to get next to you,” He brings the song to its satisfying climax with the hypnotic and alluring chant, “Joy, joy, joy. Joy, joy, joy – Fiiiiiire.”
Walker dives into the hymnals again for inspiration for the beautiful, “Back Around.” This song is the heart and soul of the album, serving as metaphor for his own musical and personal journey. Starting with nothing but humming and hand claps, the song strikes a reverent tone. Waxing philosophical, Seth sings, “When you let go of holding on, all that leaves is never gone. It makes no difference if we’re near or far. I just close my eyes and there you are.” Like Ray Charles’ early work, Walker borrows musically from the deep gospel tradition of the South, but instead of singing of repentance and redemption, he sings of living in the moment and enjoying life to the fullest. Even so, there may still be a hidden parable as he sings, “We are forever bound to come, yes to come, back around.”
And the album keeps coming back around to the musical styles he picked up on his journeys across America. From the tropical rhythms of “Moving On,” to the swinging Dixieland of “Way Past Midnight,” to the Luther Vandross inspired “The Sound Of Your Voice,” and the joyful, Calypso/Gospel fusion of “Turn This Thing Around,” and back home to the Soul/Country of the title track, Walker’s sweet and soulful tenor voice delivers an impassioned and impressive interpretation of Americana’s many musical influences. As he sings in the title track, “I gotta get back before I can move ahead.” By getting back to his musical roots, he has clearly moved ahead with this stellar, soulful, Americana gem.