The first thing you are going to want to do when you hear the single “Hell Or Highwater” by the Billy Walton Band is watch the promo video and then look for the album – Soul Of A Man. Anyone who’s followed South Side Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, should know very well who guitarist Billy Walton is. And anyone who doesn’t, should start with the Billy Walton Band and look back. That’s just as good of a way to find this diamond in the rough, and this album with a hot new single is the latest release from this longtime-artists solo band. A touring outfit from New Jersey, with a lot of heart and soul backing the band leader.
The Billy Walton Band have been up to good things. They signed with Vizztones Records for the – Wish For What You Want release in 2015, an album produced by award-winning BMI producer and current Eric Burden drummer and Tony Braunagel. The songs on – Soul Of A Man will take the band to the next great phase. It breeds common ground with Springsteen and Southside Johnny, but with the guitar-hero fronted Billy being the approach. The result is a smashing delivery with “Hell Or Highwater” lighting the way as the lead-off single. A truly face-melting track with a live sound.
The video is very cool because it shows the band performing in a dark and smoky bar atmosphere, with Billy Walton shown singing and playing, with edited parts of him wailing away on the guitar. The track is chock full of incendiary guitar licks throughout, so the visual aspects fit the picture perfectly. The band screams with blues rock and flashes of jazz and swing, with a horn section. The track is a shuffle, and who doesn’t like a shuffle. But they really kick it all the way up with the horns and guitars, like a big style romp. And as mentioned, there is plenty of room for Walton to solo, as he does so well.
Find What You Are Missing With The Billy Walton Band
The guitar sound is clean and dirty at the same time, with an assortment of tones Walton manages to move freely about with, and it never changes the course of the tune. He has maverick skills to marvel at, which include his singing and songwriting ability. It all comes from being on the scene so long that it’s developed into his own brand of blues-rock and soul, with the latter being the main twist. But I would have to say it’s his sound that stands out the most because it never stays in one place, yet it never throws anything off for sake of song. This isn’t easy but Walton makes it look like a walk in the park.
Billy Walton is a first-rate player and singer and to describe his style would be tricky, but he is in the class of players like Stevie Ray Vaughan and modern blues-rock players of his generation. There’s no questioning the up-scale talent of Walton and band, it’s always down to taste. It’s not only for blues-rock lovers because it has a lot of swing. He’s a musician’s musician and they never fail to please and dazzle fans. “Hell Or Highwater” presents an honest look at an honest performance with a few edited features to showcase both the song and their live act. It succeeds on its own merit.
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-review by Jeff Turner