Walking the White Moon
Walker Smith has a few things going for him, musically: A nearly flawless voice. That’s one. He’s seemingly effortless in his command, riding a bed of lyrics that can arrive only in the voice of someone who’s well-read. Walker, from Hillsboro, NH, can play guitar, pick in the right spots, create a rhythm, give birth to a song, then deliver it to a crowd like a young Jackson Browne.
He’s that good, folks.
And he’s got his first CD out called White Moon. It packs 14 songs, half of which are perfect for taking it down on a Wednesday night when you can fall backwards and simply drift away. The other half you stand for, then rock and tap, rock and tap.
I listened to White Moon back to front, because for some reason, that’s just how it loaded. After hearing the last track first, “Olive’s Lullaby,” I announced to myself that this was the perfect opener. The moaning of steel behind a steady chord allows Walker to “make the wind sound like its whistling,” as he eases a restless heart in the middle of the night.
“White Lies and Innocent Half Truth” is that stand-in-the-corner-and-dream song. From across a room, we all imagine that unspoken conversation between “two drunk romantics in a Joni Mitchell tune.” Rise above your misery, Walker seems to be saying, just walk up and spill your troubles, “cause honey I hear ya.”
Walker has only been playing out for a year. But he’s covered a lot of ground in 12 months, performing nearly every week for big and small crowds. I’ve seen him open for a great rock band called The Greenlights and nearly steal the show. I’ve seen him walk into a benefit concert looking like any old pint-swinging lout in a flannel shirt, get on stage as an unknown, and leave with the audience in the palm of his hand.
“Abilene” is a great song too. It’ll set to a heel to tap, declaring that, indeed, we weren’t all made to love each other. Maybe not even like each other. But tonight, the song suggests, let’s fake it as lovers, chase the devil, and “turn over tables.” Love it.
The gin-soaked “Broken Glass” is caught up in the night, surrounded by a groovy riff that cools the “edges” of his “imperfections.” Walker is in the danger zone where they hand down but one choice: “Love me lady right now.” That’s it.
Without a doubt my favorite song is “Love Has Made You Soft” — a duet with the utterly charismatic Lauren Hurley. Hurley is another New Hampshire singer-songwriter that is crazy good. She’s smoky in her delivery, with soul and passion that comes hand-delivered, Her presence is felt, and the two-minute song is perfect. Really. “Combat boots and concert tee, I hope you kept them all,” Walker sings to Hurley before she explains that “love is a leap of faith” and she knew he would fall hard.
Well, who wouldn’t, Ms. Hurley?
White Moon gives you consistency, melody, smart thinking, great singing, and a glimpse into the mind of a folksinger on the rise.
Go to www.reverbnation.com/walkersmith and give White Moon a listen. Backwards if you must.
By the way, White Moon was produced by fellow New Hampshire musician Rob Kleiner at Yourband Studios in Concord.