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CD Review: Seth Walker - 'Leap of Faith'

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Friday, June 12, 2009

SETH WALKER

"Leap of Faith"

Kindred Spirits: Delbert McClinton, Ray Charles, Boz Scaggs

Show: Appearing Wednesday with Delbert McClinton at Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis. Show starts at 8 p.m. 410-268-4545. http://www.ramsheadtavern.com. Also appearing June 19 at the Birchmere. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 703-549-7500. http://www.birchmere.com.

Latter-day soul man Seth Walker's latest release features a guest appearance by roots legend Delbert McClinton, with whom he has been touring. But more important, "Leap of Faith" is laced with songs written by Walker and McClinton's longtime collaborator, Nashville tunesmith and producer Gary Nicholson.

Grammy winner Nicholson's track record speaks for itself. His songs have been recorded by such artists as George Jones, Guy Clark, B.B. King and Neil Diamond. "Leap of Faith," however, is akin to Nicholson's work with McClinton, an alliance rooted in a shared affinity for vintage blues, soul and R&B. Indeed, one of the album's indisputable highlights is Walker and Nicholson's "I Got a Song," which sounds as if it were composed and arranged with Ray Charles in mind.

Even so, Walker and Nicholson wear their influences lightly. Making the most of his soulful croon, Walker displays his easy way with ballads and he frequently contributes colorful guitar work to the album's uptempo excursions. Of course, given Nicholson's talents, it's not surprising to find that the songwriting is consistently sharp, though some cuts, including "I Don't Dance" and "Dig a Little Deeper," outshine others.

-- Mike Joyce


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