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The Hardest Walk

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Album Review

The Soledad Brothers' fifth album, The Hardest Walk, opens with "Truth or Consequences," a solid and gloriously raunchy slice of blues-shot rock & roll that recalls the Rolling Stones in their Sticky Fingers/Exile on Main St. glory days with its gutsy guitar lines and horn accents. But the Soledad Brothers don't seem to be channeling the sound of the Stones so much as their approach on The Hardest Walk. Like those abovementioned albums, The Hardest Walk isn't afraid to make with the rock, and with the band expanded to a quartet for these sessions with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Dechman, songs like "Crooked Crown" and "Good Feeling" are rich and full bodied without sounding cluttered or losing the spaces around the notes. But just as the Stones found as much hard groove and hard soul in their slow and quiet numbers as the rockers, the Soledad Brothers explore the sense of dynamics they discovered on 2003's Voice of Treason, and "Crying Out Loud (Tears of Joy)," "Let Me Down," "True to Zou Zou," and the title song are late-night numbers that add a potent atmosphere to the disc that straight-up guitar wail couldn't have brought them. The Soledad Brothers have obviously learned that their musical world does not begin and end with the messed-up blues-rock of their early days, and The Hardest Walk sounds like their most satisfying offering to date.


Formed: 1998 in Maumee, OH

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The dark blues duo Soledad Brothers began in early 1998 after guitarist/vocalist Johnny Wirick (a.k.a. Johnny Walker) asked drummer Ben Smith (a.k.a. Ben Swank) if he wanted to play a show. Since then, they have recorded for Detroit's Italy Records and Bellingham, Washington's Estrus label. Wirick and Smith's partnership can be traced back to their days in the Toledo, Ohio blues group Henry and June, which existed from 1994 until 1996. After that group broke up, Wirick continued playing with drummer...
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The Hardest Walk, Soledad Brothers
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