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Time Can Change ()

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Seth Walker gets pigeon-holed as a blues artist, which he is, possessing a sharp, fluid, and elegantly clean guitar style that makes him sound like a 21st century version of T-Bone Walker (no relation), always gracefully augmenting the song at hand instead of growling in the corner. Yeah, Walker can play the blues, and he has, but he's also a brilliantly nuanced vocalist -- part Al Green, part Harry Connick Jr., part James Taylor -- whose songwriting and singing is as much R&B, gospel, country, and jazz as it is blues. All of this is obvious on his latest album, the self-produced Time Can Change, which is much sparer, jazzier, and small band combo-oriented than his previous release, the Gary Nicholson-produced and critically acclaimed Leap of Faith, from 2009. The songs here aren't blues -- they're late-night gypsy soul numbers with jazz overtones and now and then a little reggae lilt -- but they carry blues themes full of the worries, concerns, and trials that come with life, love, and relationships. They just aren't blues songs in the accepted contemporary sense, which generally means blistering electric guitar leads and a growling, honky tonk tone. That isn't Walker, at least not where this wonderful set is concerned. Songs like "Stronger Than You Need to Be," "Before It Breaks," "What Now," and "More Days Like This" have more to do with Django Reinhardt than they do Stevie Ray Vaughan, and more to do with Ray Charles than they do Howlin' Wolf, although the concerns are the same -- how to find love, stability, and redemption when everything depends on it. Walker's vocals are as natural, clear, sharp, and as effortlessly elegant as his guitar playing in these songs, and it all fits together into a warm, unadorned little album that reveals itself more and more with each listen. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi Hide synopsis

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