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Walter Trout 'Broken' Review: Blues guitar legend holds onto hope in an album that wears its scars with pride

Schadenfreude is roughly translated as taking pleasure in witnessing the misfortunes of others. 'Broken' is an album filled with dark tales and troubles, but it's an endlessly pleasurable listen. To a certain degree blues music lends itself to tales of woes, but this album is different: it wears its scars proudly as it presents tales of struggles and triumph over them. It's beautifully heartfelt and rooted in a drive for hope despite its commentary on the human condition and the cracks in modern life.

The title track pulls no punches. The raw duet between Beth Hart and Walter is like listening to the two musicians unpack their hearts and souls. It’s a brutal prayer that takes courage to perform. Both artists have been through the mill and happily lived to tell the tale. It's a stunning way to open the album.

Will Wilde – the British Harmonica player dubbed by Walter as “the best harmonica player on the planet” struts his stuff on 'Bleed'. Dee Snider joins on 'I've Had Enough'. Midway through the track Dee barks “Come on Walter show me what you've got” before an explosive guitar solo – just one of many. This album boasts some of Walter's finest guitar work. Thirty-one albums into his career and he's still on fire!

'No Magic (on the street)' is filled with the kind of justifiable scepticism that typically comes with age. Still, it's also imbued with realism about modern life: “These days To be a hero, you’ve just got to stay alive make it through the madness and merely survive.” The album has clear perspectives and lyrical statements that ring out in your brain long after the guitar solos fade.

Instrumental 'Love of My Life' has the vibe of Jeff Beck's 'Because We Ended as Lovers'. This softer side of Walter's music is also brought out again in the heartfelt 'I Wanna Stay'.

Although the album's commentary might be downbeat the music and message are one of beauty and optimism. Walter says of the album “I always hold onto hope, that's why I wrote the album.” The message is clear - we might all be a little bit broken, but if we hold onto hope anything is possible.


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