Reviews

Folk and Roots (UK)

Posted by on Jul 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Pulling Shadows – A native of Wyoming and almost incidental wizard of the fingerstyle guitar, Walter’s also a singer-songwriter who drags rootsy Americana from the open spaces of the Midwest out into the far reaches of the globe. In the past, he’s worked with musicians from West Africa to Australia to Finland, weaving together seemingly disparate musical strands and disciplines into a surprisingly seamless whole. The ten tracks on this, his debut CD, comprise eight songs and just two instrumental cuts. Taking the latter first, one (Dustdevil) is a plain astounding piece, a whirling, spinning mass of kora textures (on which Mamadou Diabate guests, no less), whereas Spinner’s Cascade is also aptly named, being a tumbling solo acoustic guitar painting on which Walter demonstrates his consummate mastery of the instrument in a pastoral, neo-folk-baroque context (think acoustic Led Zepp perhaps). The vocal items, all songs of Walter’s own composition, are also exceedingly satisfying, indeed tasty, and embrace a variety of roots idioms, from the tenderly soulful Latin-inflected Time, Peace And Honey through the deep-throated horn-bedecked The Beast and the contemplative Like Water. Walter’s gently soulful, smoky, sometimes dreamlike vocal tones suit each song so well, whether he’s framed by edgy Beefheartian rhythms (Love Puddle), funky percussive picking (In The Stone) or a yearning pedal steel (as on Blue Horizon and Spring Song) or carrying the expressive heart while kora and guitar cascade meaningfully around him. Walter’s chosen his guest musicians well – they include Rich DePaolo, Bob Carlucci, Ken Laroche and Bill King – and Walter’s keen incorporation of the African influences in particular leads to some creative and stimulating musical adventures, wholly naturally blending the rippling rhythmic patterns into his own inventions. Pulling Shadows was recorded a couple of years ago at least, yet it sounds bang up to the minute, and a followup is due this year sometime, maybe (I hope) to coincide with a short UK tour starting May 2009; this guy’ll certainly be worth seeing. www.walterstrauss.com – David...

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Guitar and Bass Magazine

Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Pulling Shadows – Strauss does a grand job of weaving American roots and African rhythms (not to mention the odd Latin jazz excursion) into his tunes. Just relax and let his featherlight fingerstyle playing wash over you.

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Maverick Magazine (UK)

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire – A six track EP showcasing the guitar mastery of this fine Californian musician. Many Maverick readers will remember Walter Strauss from his previous UK tours accompanying singer songwriter Corinne West. The EP PLANET SOLITAIRE is to be released to coincide with the first solo UK tour by Walter and what a vibrant musical mix it is. African and North American influences abound on this collection of six tracks ranging from the opening instrumental Djimbaseh, a song that Walter learned from the legendary Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate to the tune Ishi, a homage to the last survivor of the Yahi tribe of North America. Also covered is an instrumental version of the George Harrison penned Within You, Without You, written at a time when George was experimenting with Indian music and sound. Above all on this EP the guitar playing is what stands out the most and those of us who get a chance to witness Walter when he is playing shows in the UK during May and early June will be in for a real treat. www.walterstrauss.com –...

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fRoots Magazine (UK)

Posted by on Apr 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Pulling Shadows – There are a lot of very good things on this album: excellent guitar work by Strauss, both fingerpicked and electric, ecological songs, pretty straight country-pop, tricksy rhythms, and kora work from Mamadou Diabate. The sheer diversity of the material, however, dilutes the impact of each track a bit; but no matter, the man is class.

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Pacific Sun

Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Our published week comes to a close with an appearance at the Larkspur Cafe Theatre by the Walter Strauss Trio. Strauss’ debut solo disc, Pulling Shadows (2007) arrived at my house with a little help from his friends — and I’ve been spinning it since. I’ve been a fan of Walter Strauss since I received a copy of his project with kora master Mamadou Diabate, who also performs on “Pulling Shadows”. Of local interest, some of the recording for the 10-track disc was done in Fairfax. Strauss has harvested a rich melange from several styles, and his new recording is a showcase of what the man can do. From his previous recording, I was ready for Strauss’s smooth and fluent worldbeat rhythms and runs. An affinity (and corresponding ability) for jazz is apparent as well — Walter Strauss can make those strings sing! What came as a surprise, especially after the somewhat spiritual lyrics of other songs (such as the first track “In the Stone”), was song number six “The Beast”. With sampled horns and all, this dark homage to everyone’s inner critic sounds like nothing else on the disc, especially regarding the lyrics. With all sorts of percussion, mandolin, pedal steel and more helping him construct many a mood, Strauss has pieced together a musical quilt that covers quite a sonic area. It’ll be fun seeing how he fits it all together for a live performance. – Matt...

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Daily Freeman

Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Pulling Shadows – Walter Strauss Shines a light with Pulling Shadows. “OK, stop everything you’re doing and go see Walter Strauss Saturday night. Really. The California-based Strauss is playing intriguing guitar-based music with an artistry that’s unparalleled. Not generic singer-songwriter fare, but something a cut above the rest. The first track, “In the Stone”, is a prime example of his formula. Even before the voice enters, the amazing interplay of the acoustic guitar and bass (Rich DePaolo on fretless) is jaw-dropping with its clever counterpoint and rhythmic textures. His flexible pipes serpentine around this motion, until an airy chorus pulls back and the organic lyrics reveal themselves. With “Spring Song”, Strauss moves to an electric, but the same approach applies. “Love Puddle” is more disjointed and angular, “Dustdevil” is limber and loose. “Like Water” is distant and dreamy, while “Spinner’s Cascade” is stunning instrumental. His instrumental prowess is dazzling, and an inherent spiritual quality hovers over this work. Delightfully different, do not miss Strauss, his guitar, and his music. Strauss plays Saturday at the Rosendale Cafe. – David...

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Fatea Magazine (UK)

Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Planet Solitaire -2011 seems to be a year for instrumental guitar albums. In “Planet Solitaire”, Walter Strauss, has delivered an album that really does provide meaning to the phrase world music. Drawing influence from four continents, including transposing kora tunes to the guitar, Strauss manages to find a real community in his songs. It’s not actually a fully instrumental album, but it feels like it is. You get the feeling that the words are only there to provide a counterpoint to the guitar, rather than for the guitar to support the voice. Mellow and...

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Acoustic Magazine

Posted by on Feb 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Pulling Shadows – Walter Strauss is a stellar guitar player, with a list of sideman credits as long as your arm, but there’s more to him than that. On Pulling Shadows he demonstrates that he is also an accomplished lyricist with an ear for a good tune, managing to make music which is hooky and memorable, and at the same time so complex in parts as to be almost prog rock. Add to that some wonderful pedal steel playing, and the contribution of Mamadou Diabaté, virtuoso of the West African kora, a harp-like instrument, and you have a truly extraordinary album. – Sam...

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Ventnorblog (UK)

Posted by on Jan 14, 2011 in Reviews | 0 comments

Quay Arts Centre Show – Thanks to a VB advertisement, I went to the Quay Arts on Friday night to see Walter Strauss play live. What a skillful guitar player he is.Walter took the appreciative audience on a world journey with his differing music genres, from the Americana to West Africa. His nimble, quick fingered style allows you to think he is playing more than one instrument, (perhaps he should change his name to Walter “quick-fingers” Strauss). I found myself constantly looking to see where all the sounds were coming from. Not only did he play the guitar, but gave us a humorous history lesson from around the world, including stories about the buffalo, the last Indian warrior and West African tribes. Walter’s guitar is an un-holey beast, that is to say it has no hole in it. To get the sound he wants, his guitar has a magnetic strip under the “missing hole” with a microphone attached. This gives his guitar a wonderful rich bass sound, at times it reminded me of Andy McKee, and at times his voice reminded me of “Yusuf Islam”. One skillful song at the end of his first set, which showed off his talent and the rich bass sound was a track called “Beautiful”; it truly was. Included in Walter’s second set was a risqué number titled “Love Puddle” I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. He told a story with a twist on words, which was skilfully done and humorous. Walter is a truly talented musician who loved the appreciative audience and vowed to...

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