NC native’s first live album is as infectious as his studio work
Seth Walker has been on an enviable hot streak as of late, releasing a series of fantastic studio albums that mix R&B, folk, blues and rock into a style that’s all his own. Live At Mauch Chunk Opera House is his first-ever concert recording, and it shows that he’s just as lethal in a live setting.
Although Walker did a lot of solo shows promoting his latest album, Gotta Get Back, for this disc he’s joined by the trio of Myles Weeks on bass, Stefano Intelisano on keys & accordion, and Eric Kalb on drums. They provide the perfect backdrop for Walker’s laid back delivery.
The set opens with one of Walker’s finest compositions, “Tomorrow,” a highlight off of 2014’s Sky Still Blue. The band lays down a funky, simmering groove, while Walker sings behind the beat, then shows off his underrated guitar ability with a great solo.
The majority of the album smartly focuses on Gotta Get Back. “Fire in the Belly” chugs along, propelled by a great Hammond organ solo, while Walker switches to acoustic guitar for the soul-infused “Grab Ahold.”
You’ll have a hard time sitting still for the propulsive “High Time,” which gives both the drummer and bassist an opportunity to show off their chops. The Willie Nelson nod, “Blue Eyes,” features a great accordion accompaniment.
Things wrap up with the New Orleans rave up, “Way Past Midnight,” again pushed along by accordion, and again, a song to get you moving.
In the liner notes we find out that this recording was done without the band’s knowledge at a fine auditorium in Pennsylvania – and it shows. The band is loose, the mood is relaxed – it’s just Seth Walker doing what he does best.
The only minor quibble is that he’s got so much great material, this could easily have been a double album.
Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House proves that the magic Seth Walker has been creating on his recent solo albums is no fluke – he’s capable of doing it every night in concert. —Tony Peters