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Album Review: Joe Walsh – Analog Man

5 min read

As a member of American superband the Eagles, Joe Walsh seems to have done it all. With the band continuing to be a staple in popular culture some 40 years after it’s formation thanks to countless classics like I Can’t Tell You Why, Life In The Fast Lane, Heartache Tonight and the bands signature hit Hotel California, guitarist Walsh has also maintained a solo career that has flourished over time and seen the musician become as recognized for his solo material as he is for his time within the group.

JoeWalshAnalogManIt has been a while since Walsh has released any solo records, his last being Songs From A Dying Planet way back in 1992. In the interim he has worked extensively with brother in law and ex-Beatle, Ringo Starr, as well as REO Speedwagen and, of course, recording and touring extensively with the Eagles. It is understandable as to why the musician hasn’t been able to put as much focus on his solo career as both he and fans would have liked but thankfully the wait is over as the rock icon this week unveils his first record in almost two decades with the release of Analog Man.

Over the years the wild rocker has carved a fine repertoire for himself from his significant contributions to the catalogue of his American hit-making super group as well as throughout his many solo projects. Starting out as the founder and front-man of early bands James Gang and Barnstorm, the star went on to pave a fine solo career and had huge success with singles that included the the phenomenal Ordinary Average Guy and Life’s Been Good To Me So Far.

One things for sure – Joe Walsh is certainly no Ordinary Average Guy. Climbing on board a powerful and diverse catalogue spanning over 40 years, Analog Man basks in further glory for the rock veteran as it adds further proof to that.

The title track starts the record off and the track picks up nicely where Walsh dropped us off with his last release however the first obvious things that we notice is the maturity of both sound quality and vocal ability of the rock’n’roll veteran who unleashes his distinctive gravely vocals over some impressive guitar riffs and a subtle acoustic guitar that sits almost shy in the background showing face occasionally but with sweet promise each time. The song also seems quite relevant as the singer tells of being an Analog Man in a digital world, something that the world has become since his last solo venture. Lines like the opening “Welcome to cyberspace, I’m lost in the fog” pretty much sums up the nature of the track.

Wrecking Ball sounds most like Walsh’s early solo material. The number contains not only an infectious chorus but some well placed harmonies that make this track one of the most memorable songs on the collection. The meaty guitar work that Walsh effortlessly unfurls on the track casts his musicianship into the spotlight showing us just why Joe Walsh is considered one of the greatest guitar players of the past 50 years.

A perfect summer track that sounds like it was built with long summer road trips in mind, Hi-Roller Baby is a catchy late addition to the track-listing that allows Walsh to move swiftly through a guitar driven highlight on Analog Man with his nasal laced vocals.

No one can deny him his legendary status. Tracks like Funk 50 with its culmination of instruments and funky rhythm or the sitar soaked Band Played On offer us a pair of well composed and diverse additions to the record that shows off the musicians flawless songwriting abilities, something that just sounds so easy for him.

India shows us just what this aging rocker still has to offer on the records token instrumental which comes hand in hand with some opening guitar work that AC/DC would be envious of but before pulsating it’s way into a more modern sounding, pop/rock number with a complimentary feel of electronica.

Another stand out comes through on the beautifully sentimental Lucky That Way. Probably the most personal track on the record it is both candid and moving as Walsh sings through an abridged and confessional musical patchwork of his life while taking account of all that he is thankful for but not losing sight of his pre-fame beginnings as well as his achievements over the years including not only his music but also his marriage, being modest while he does. The track is given a sweet Californian coating with the help if ELO front-man and long time Tom Petty collaborator Jeff Lynn who takes the producers seat for several of the records tracks including this one. Balladry is also thick on the swaying Family which, again, displays an appreciative Walsh who tells of being thankful to his close ones. Lines including “all that we have is each other, and that’s all that I’ll ever need” as well as being “among friends, I know have my back” brings out the vulnerable and emotional side of the hell-raising, rebellious persona that we have come to know of the star over the past few decades.

Analog Man is an exquisite new addition to the expansive Joe Walsh catalogue which dons ten musically inviting tracks all with a life of their own and all with an engaging appeal to them. The new collections propels itself forward with its modern day production but holds of confidently, as well as at moments, defiantly, to Walsh’s simple, 60’s roots. With a good mix of ballads and up-tempo inclusions as well as appearances from some of the industry’s most elite including Ringo Starr, the record boasts a superb track-listing that leaves us with one hope – that it isn’t another twenty years before we a offered a follow up to such a fine piece of musicianship from one of the true legends of the industry.

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