Wilkins is from Texas, after a ten year stretch in Nashville he ventured back home to the rolling hills of West Texas, found Austin, wrote and co-produced this release.
What strikes me with the first few bars is the easy laid back feeling of someone in control of their material, vocally as well as being at home on guitar. The first tune, “Just Be” is as smooth as a baby behind, very relaxed and assured of the message and mood the tale it weaves. Walt Wilkins lays back on the vocal work and allows the production its due. There is a very warm quality to his vocals with a dash of earthiness or throatiness that works for the artist.
“Ain’t It Just Like Love” the third track continues Wilkins exploration of the heart of a young man. Wilkins is a fine writer and appears to have taken something with him besides Nashville dust. His tunes are hooky and filled with lush backing vocals that work well with his production values.
This product came out of Jumping Dog Studios in Austin, co-produced with Ron Flint. There are some great players backing Wilkins. The bass work is split up between Flint, Bill Small and Dick Gamble. Pianos & organ are handled by Flint and Patterson Barrett. Electric guitars are covered by Corby Schaub, Brett Danaher, Marcus Eldridge, Scrappy Jud Newcomb and Brian Langlnais. Lap steel guitar is masterfully played by Corby Schaub and pedal steel work is handled by Kim Deschamps, Mike Daly and Lloyd Maines. Strings were furnished by Warren Hood.
Wilkins finds his groove early on in the project and doesn’t vary much on the theme of a young man dealing with the ups and down of love, life and self-realization. There’s something of an old soul found in his word riffs and approach to a very old art form. Wilkins also, it would seem, has been influenced by the rock world or his co-producer was as there are hints of the best of some of rock standards from the early 1970’s through its demise in the later part of that decade. But, make no mistake Wilkins is a student of the national treasure that is country music.
All in all a great listen and a great production from an artist that is in the game for the long run. There are twelve self-penned tunes with that distinctive Texas vibe.
[Christopher Brant Anderson]