Toby Walker – What You See Is What You Get | Album Review

tobywalkercdToby Walker – What You See Is What You Get


CD: 16 songs; 53:05 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Electric, Slide-guitar Blues

Typists and keyboardists have an acronym referring to their work: WYSIWYG, or “What You See is What You Get.” This means that in the exact way a document appears onscreen, it will appear on paper. On the cover of East Coast acoustic guitar virtuoso Toby Walker’s latest album, what one sees is a photo of Walker seated in a recording studio, strumming his instrument of choice. Three things can be deduced from this picture: 1) Walker is a solo act here (in 2002, he won the IBC solo competition). 2) His concentration runs as deep as his fretwork. 3) There is little danger of “WYSIWYG” sounding over-produced, because as its liner notes state, there are “no overdubs or second takes.” With that said, the quality of Walker’s musicianship borders on astounding. 

“For the first time I’ve decided to record songs using an electric slide guitar rather than my steel [resonator] guitar,” Toby reveals in the liner notes.  “It’s a whole new exciting sound so don’t be surprised if you see me playing that at upcoming gigs.” His new shredder earns its stripes from the get-go, bringing zesty life to sixteen songs (ten covers and six originals). The following three numbers are of the latter category, either written or co-written by Walker himself:

Track 03: “Everything I Want” – We all have dreams, and in our narrator’s case, they’re about a thousand times the size of his pocketbook: “I needed me a week’s vacation, and all I could afford was a Motel 6. Instead I got me a Presidential Suite at the fancy Hotel Ritz. And I knew that would put me in debt; that much I will concede. Seems like everything I want is just the opposite of what I need.” A jaunty, upbeat melody propels this song as its spendthrift subject tumbles deeper and deeper into a financial hellhole. Jeff Steinberg co-composed this tongue-in-cheek tale of woe.

Track 06: “Swing Bean” – “Although I recorded ‘Swing Bean’ a decade ago, it has since evolved quite a bit, so I decided it was time to record this new version,” reads Toby’s liner-note revelation. This uplifting instrumental might make one imagine sunny days, warm breezes and riding a bike (regular or motor) along a bustling highway. Sometimes an artist’s best work is his oldest, refurbished and reinvented. Such is the case here. 

Track 14: “Put Something Stupid on the Tube” – Co-writers Tom Griffith and Toby Walker share the same nighttime ambition: to watch inane TV. “You know, the big boss man drove me half-insane. There’s nothing left to do but to drain my brain. I’ll tell you right now, I’m going to put something stupid on the tube!” Purists will dig the sensational solo in the middle, and fans of hilarious lyrics will snicker (or groan, depending on how much they’ve done the same thing). 

“What You See Is What You Get” with Toby Walker: straight-up, raw electric slide. 


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