Maverick Magazine (UK)

Planet Solitaire – A specialist market this, highly skilled guitar and harp playing of American and African roots music, in its original meaning with one or two good vocal tracks also included. Even a proficient guitarist would have to sit and listen to this, an intimate, light sound, highly melodic, and the overall sound washes over you in a very pleasant way. A Californian, Walter Strauss is a hard working, time served musician with a long list of sideman credtis now highlighting his own considerable individual talents and he has recently completed a successful solo and shared billing tour of small halls the length and breadth of the UK. The album is topped and tailed by traditional West African tunes played on the kora, a 21 string harp which Strauss learned to play from touring with a virtuoso, 2010 Grammy winner, Mamadou Diabate. The tracks are Djeli and Djimbaseh and they are expressive tributes to the musicians of Africa.

The vocal tracks are side dishes really, a bit like Chet Atkins used to throw into some of his albums. The Salamander a tale of the life and loves of a woodland amphibian was dull. Much better was Woody Guthrie’s The Great Historical Bum with Strauss’ vocalisztion sounding, I would think quite deiberately, very like Arlo Guthrie. My picks are a version of George Harrison’s Sgt Pepper track Within You Without You and two evocative self penned tracks Gypsydish and Ishi, the latter related to the true story of the last surviving member of a Native American tribe. If this is your style of music you won’t find a much better proponent than Walter Strauss. – Paul Collins