Walking Papers W2 Album Review
Swampy Swagger and Blistering Ballads
For the uninitiated, Walking Papers are a bluesy hard rock outfit from Seattle. It began as a project between Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season) and Jeff Angell (The Missionary Position). They ended up writing an album's worth of killer songs together with the swagger of some of their previous bands, with also the soulful and melancholy elements of say Mad Season. Overdriven guitar riffs sit comfortably next to vibraphone and double bass. Along for the ride were the likes of Mike McCready (Pearl Jam, Mad Season), Duff McKagan (GnR, Velvet Revolver), and Ben Anderson (Missionary Position). The minor label release of songs was so well received that Duff and Ben joined full time and they were all signed up to rerelease the album with a major label. What followed after was a great critical response, extensive touring and ultimately lots of ideas for a second record.
The band then went in and cut this record, but with Duff involved in a massive Guns and Roses reunion and various other factors, the album had to sit on the shelf for two years. In the interim Jeff and Ben put out the excellent Staicland band album, which I think is also a vital recording in itself. Finally before Christmas, W2 was given a release date!
So, to the album. After the first listen I was relieved that it was good. I really loved the first record. It's terrific. I didn't think this was going to be as good. I've probably had around a dozen plays now and I'm now convinced that it is a step up again. One indicator is that I keep changing my mind on what my favourite song is! One day it's the keyboard driven ballad Red and White. Then it's the rockin' and also catchy Yours Completely or Into The Truth. It really is the sound of a tightly honed band who has toured the hell out of a great album and then gone into the studio and made an even better one.
As you'd expect, there is thunderous but tasteful drumming from Barrett Martin and dirty grooves from Duff. Ben Anderson is the background guy, but who you would really miss with his thoughtful playing, holding a lot of the space in the music together. When I caught the band on fire in Belfast (not literally- we're much more peaceful now! ), some of my friends were there as GnR or Trees fans. Everyone went home that night a Jeff Angell fan. Live he was a terriric and engaging performer and that comes through on this record. The bottom line is though that he writes terrific songs, has a great voice and plays some mean, swampy blues guitar.
These guys are still in no way a big band. The album has been out for over a week and mine is the only review on Amazon. So please do your ears a favour and a grab a copy now!
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