Walk When You Wanna Run (Independent)
Just when we all wrote off the electric blues as a beer-commercial leftover from the neon-sign salad days of the Yale Hotel, enjoyable releases like Ethan Askey’s Walk When You Wanna Run leap out of the aether and send us all running for our overdriven Fenders.
Renowned Calgary-based harmonica-warrior Askey has an established career as an in-demand sideman for notable artists like Ridley Bent, Dave McCann, Jimmy Guiboche, Matt Masters and Darren Johnson (he’s even blown harp onstage with Amos Garrett and John Mayall). He now stands the Canadian blues-roots-whatsit world on its jaded ear with a 10-song collection of self-penned tunes showcasing his wit and smarts and winning baritone voice.
Recorded during the second half of 2021 under the golden ears of Toronto’s Juno-winner blues wunderkind Steve Marriner, WWYWR crosses stylistic boundaries from jam-band hookah-funk (“Stoners”) to simmering Bo Diddley beats (“Swing Like That”) to ever-classic jump boogie (“One Foot in the Grave”).
Add to that sexy grooves (“Flowdown”), title-track true stories about bravely and boldly seeking out Junior Wells’ home on the mean streets of South Chicago (“Walk When You Wanna Run”), and a surprisingly well-in-place Tom Waits number (“Til the Money Runs Out”). And, not done there, kickass instrumental solo showcases (“Exuberance”), environmental conservationist pleas (“The Lowly Bee”), sultry tales of love fading away (“Tuvimos”), and a closing acoustic-driven ballad (“Of Different Kind”).
All throughout the album one finds top-notch musicianship, not just from Askey’s killer prowess on the mouth harp, but from producer/musical director Marriner and his long, long list of A-level talent. Truly one of the brightest and freshest albums released in this early decade, Walk When You Wanna Run is a grand debut for Askey, and hopefully will usher in other such strong work in the years to come.