Seth Walker

Sky Still Blue (Royal Potato Family)

Texas Platters

Americana journeyman Seth Walker made his name slingin' axe on the not-so-mean streets of Austin, though he's since made home bases in Nashville and New Orleans. The latter location informs his sixth album Sky Still Blue, but not in overt ways one might expect. Rather than giving himself a N'awlins funk makeover, Walker adds some elasticity to his rhythms and a jazzy lilt to his six-string work. "Tomorrow" mines a Latin pop vibe to appealing effect, and "High Wire" smolders through a smoky ballad perfect for late-night Treme marathons. "For a Moment There" rolls on some Satchmo pop grooves, and the overtly bluesy "Easy Come, Easy Go" sways to an easygoing rhythm soaked in kudzu and good seafood. Ironically, the New Orleans atmosphere makes Walker err on the side of classy, even sedate – the influence of producer Oliver Wood of the unfailingly tasteful Wood Brothers, perhaps? Only "All That I'm Asking" (notably the only song Walker composed alone) really makes feet shuffle and hips move, and expectations of a funky throwdown or a dirty guitar rip go unfulfilled. Sky Still Blue is impeccably crafted, but too subdued to generate the sweat its inspirational location should generate.

**

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