Joe Louis Walker’s Weight of the World

By Brian Rock

Blues Hall of Famer, Joe Louis Walker adds to his legend with his 24th full length studio release, Weight of the World. Blurring the boundaries between blues and soul, Walker walks a thin line that pays tribute to both. With electrifying guitar licks and a powerful Blues voice that recalls Albert Collins and B.B. King with a subtle, soulful Solomon Burke influence, Walker packs a Joe Louis punch with every song.

“The Weight of The World,” is a contemplation of current events. Singing, “Can’t move with the weight of the world. Got the weight of the world sitting on my shoulders,” Walker bemoans the current state of humanity. Watching the evening news, he feels like he’s “Running downhill from a boulder.” But despite the pessimism of the lyrics, the guitar line is uplifting and lively, further enhanced by pulsing electric organ chords. The mixed message seems to be that when the world is in turmoil, there is a certain victory in just enjoying the moment.

Walker continues to explore weighty issues on, “Is It A Matter Of Time.” Gospel infused Memphis soul exudes joy and optimism as he asks, “Do good things come to those who wait? Is justice denied, justice delayed?” Again the juxtaposition between lyrics and melody is jarring as Walker encourages listeners to confront injustice with the hope that it may be overcome. “Waking Up The Dead,” is another study in contradictions. Combining New Orleans jazz and funk, Walker belts out, “I saw the devil walking like a man…Promised salvation, burned the whole thing down.” Warning us not to put our faith in false prophets, he urges us to look beyond knee-jerk tribal loyalties and to judge people by their actions, not their words or party affiliations. 

Moving from the woes of the world to more personal problems, Walker shines his musical spotlight on relationships. “Don’t Walk Out That Door,” is a blues/soul fusion complete with electric organ, horn section and background harmonies. Begging his lover not to leave, he pleads, “Like Daniel in the lion’s den; he walked on down and he walked out again. That’s what I would do for you.” “Count Your Chickens,” is a Chicago blues tune with Afro/Cuban percussive elements that warn an unfaithful lover of chickens coming home to roost. “Root Down,” is more Chicago style blues celebrating the rambling lifestyle. “You Got Me Whipped,” is a Ray Charles influenced song of devotion., while, “Bed of Roses,” is a torch song of longing for a lost lover. Walker even adds a little rock and roll to his rollicking tribute to old time juke joints on, “Blue Mirror.”  Rounding out the set is the smooth R&B of “Hello, It’s The Blues.” A first-person narrative from the “spirit of the blues,” the spirit tells us, “I’ll be good to you, no matter what anybody says, and when you go to bed and cry, I’ll comfort you at night.” Expressing the power of the blues to help those who suffer; the song reminds us that we are all connected and that we all go through the same heartbreaks and disappointments.

Just knowing that others have faced the same challenges somehow gives us hope. With his abstract, stream of consciousness lyrics, Walker doesn’t tell stories as much as he evokes emotions. His stark lyrics and his uplifting melodies combine to do what Blues does best – remind us that even when we feel the “Weight of the World” on our shoulders, we are never truly alone.  |  fb buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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