10 songs – 47 minutes
North Carolina native, Seth Walker, has led something of a transient existence in recent years, moving from Austin to Nashville and then on to New Orleans. Along the way, he has released nine albums prior to Live At Mauch Chunk Opera House, whilst establishing a glowing reputation as a singer-songwriter of rare subtlety and nuance and a singular guitarist with a distinctly individual style. His earlier releases were significantly more blues-based than his later efforts. Indeed, it’s probably fair to say there is not much (if any) straight-ahead blues on Live At Mauch Chunk. What you do get however is a collection of tightly-crafted roots/Americana songs, played by a crack band, sung with unaffected emotional honesty and which contain some top notch, idiosyncratic guitar solos (his turn on “In The Meantime” is particularly impressive).
Live at Mauch Chunk was recorded in 2017 at an opera house in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, during Walker’s Gotta Get Back US tour. As a result, a number of songs from that album appear on this live release, including “Fire In The Belly”, “Call My Name”, “Way Past Midnight” and “High Time”. Other songs come from his earlier releases (two from Sky Still Blue, one from Time Can Change and the always entertaining “2’ Left To The Ceiling” from Seth Walker). The sole cover on the album (and also the only song not written or co-written by Walker) is also the only track not previously recorded by Walker, Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”, a long-time staple in Walker’s sets and which features a lovely accordion solo from Stefano Intelisano.
Walker’s excellent band comprises Intelisano on keyboards and accordion, Myles Weeks on bass and vocals and Eric Kalb on drums (Weeks and Kalb gets extra points for their short, melodic yet punchy solos in “High Time”). Together, they lay down a series of mid-paced grooves, with hints of reggae (“Tomorrow”), soul (“Call My Name”) and funk (“High Time”). This is not easy music to categorise, however, other than under the broad labels of “roots” or “Americana”.
Produced and mixed by Walker, Mike Poole and Kenny Raduazzo, Live At Mauch Chunk has an excellent sound quality and is a first-class recording of a performance by a seriously match-fit ensemble. The band sound relaxed and at ease but also like they are having an absolute ball.
There is always a lot to enjoy in the music of Seth Walker and Live At Mauch Chunk Opera House is no exception.