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CD Review: Walter Trout 

The Outsider

The Deal: Walter Trout delivers a heaping helping of blues styles.

The Good: On his latest, Walter Trout is all over the place. "Next Big Thing" sounds like it came off today's country charts. "All My Life" sounds like a cut from a Bon Jovi release. Trout follows that with "The Love Song of J. Alfred Bluesrock," a blues rock shuffle Stevie Ray would be proud to claim. The album's standout is "The Restless Age," an autobiographical rocker: "I used to be so angry/ uptight and full of rage/ lost in desperation /just get me to the stage ... Now I just enjoy the ride." Since licking a substance abuse problem in the late '90s after Carlos Santana counseled him, Trout's music has risen to new levels. Diversity has never bothered Trout. "People ask me if they should call my music blues or rock," Trout says. "I tell them they can call it 'Fred' if they must have a label." Trout is on top of his form for this latest outing of Fred music. Often accused of playing 10,000 notes when a handful will do, he seems to have toned down some here. His guitar work is still fierce and fiery, but seems more focused than on previous work. That doesn't mean he's given up on that technique. On the low-down-and-dirty title cut, Trout dumps out a wheelbarrow full of notes on every guitar break, shouting like a tent revival evangelist. But, as he's said, if you mean every note, why not play 10,000? It worked for Trout throughout his career with John Mayall and Canned Heat, and used sparingly here, it's just enough to make you marvel and not enough to wear you out.

The Bad: Trout doesn't get out this way from his left coast home very often. For now, this is the only way to experience one of the best bluesmen working today.

The Verdict: One of Trout's best to date.

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