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Brett Walker - Straight Jacket Vacation

Brett Walker
Straight Jacket Vacation
by Andrija "TheIslander" Petrovic at 05 September 2013, 10:39 AM

Brett Walker moved to L.A. from Oklahoma when he was 21 to launch a career in music. During his early years he collaborated with rockers SURVIVIOR and Jonatan Cain of JOURNEY. He made numerous musical contributions to TV shows “One Tree Hill”, “Felicity”, “Sex and The City”, and many others. So you probably already heard some of his songs, not even knowing they were his. His first solo record “Nevertheless” was released in 1994, and was great hit in Europe. His last album “Straight Jacket Vacation” was released posthumously (Walker died on July 8, 2013, few days after the album was recorded). It also includes many famous contributors such as Mugs Cain, Timothy Drury, Jeff Paris, Pat Leon and Matt MacKelvie.

A journey through the catchy, melodic, emotionally filled album with many sing-along choruses is what “Straight Jacket Vacation” is. The album was prominently mixed bearing a good sound with a great sense of emotional performance, quite a rare one, considering that these days everything seems to be over polished and overproduced.  The album doesn`t bring much innovation, but has some good ventures down the punk and grunge alleys.

“Reaching for the Stars” is great catchy opener, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Pat Leon is responsible for the catchy drumbeat going through this track. The slow opening of “What About You” builds up into weak million-times-heard-before-Bryan Adams-alike track. “Better Than Goodbye”, semi-acoustic track, goes back to the AOR style, just typical track that perfectly fits the genre. The song was originally recorded by Matti Alfonzetti in 2000. “Streetlights Burning” brings slight change with punchy rhythm section and flowing pre chorus. It`s one of those easy-going songs, that brings overall “feel good” feeling.

 “I Bet It Hurts” takes a slight detour into Country, with effective guitars hidden in the background. Bit different approach to “More Than I” makes Lenny Kravitz alike track (think of acoustic Lenny), with Tommy Rickard at the drums.  “Good Enough” is a bit slower track, one of those heart-thrilling ballads, with interesting conjunction of delicate guitars and vocals. At this track you can hear Steven Walker at the drums. “Waiting for Love” is stripped version of the hit song that Walker wrote for Canadian supergroup ALIAS back in 1991. Here besides Brett, you can hear Matt MacKelvie as backing vocals, Tommy “Mugs” Cain at the drums and Timothy Drury at keyboards. “I`m Gonna Fly” with a Punkier, grungy opening, and filled silences with quietly confident and effective throaty vocals, before guitars of Todd Herfindal and Rich McCulley come crushing in makes one of the best tracks on the album. Makes you think of less dark and better produced NIRVANA.

“So Happy I`m Cryin`” would make a perfect soundtrack to a romantic teen movie (“She`s All That” kind of movie, it even has some vibe of SIXPENCE NON THE RICHER`s song “Kiss me” from that movie). It`s just way too sweet, with incredibly catchy chorus (good luck with getting it out of your head, once you hear the song). “Unlucky At Love” with the sound goes back to the opening of an album, with classic AOR sound. “Someday I`m Gonna Be Famous” with its lyrics that convey the highs and lows of musicians` fame closes the album. The guitar solo of Matt MacKelvie behind the vocals brings the song to life, while the lyrics make you think. The song ends with the concert atmosphere and the words “Thank you, we will see you next time”.

This is not one of the Walker`s best albums, but will remain remembered as his last. It`s an honest album, played from the heart, and that`s what makes it so great. 

3 Star Rating

1. Reaching For The Stars
2. What About You
3. Better Than Goodbye
4. Streetlights Burning
5. I`ll Bet It Hurts
6. More Than I
7. Good Enough
8. Waiting For Love
9. I`m Gonna Fly
10. So Happy I`m Cryin`
11. Unlucky At Love
12. Someday I`m Gonna Be Famous
Brett Walker – Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass
Record Label: AOR Heaven


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