Lousy with Desire
'No one can sing like Walter. He's one of the best voices to come out of this scene, and Lousy With Desire is blue-eyed soul in it's purest, most joyful state. This record has been too long coming.' -- Jon Dee Graham 'Great f**king job!' -- Ian McLagan (former Rolling Stones and Faces keyboardist) Every music scene has a few of them: the singer other singers go see after their own gigs; the writer whose songs other songsmiths wish they'd written; the bandleader whose sessions the stars line up to play on. Ask people who holds these titles in Austin, Texas, and you'll notice that one name keeps popping up in all three categories, like cherries on a slot machine: Walter Tragert. Walter Tragert. Walter Tragert. Walter who? If you've never had the pleasure, crank up Lousy With Desire and meet your new favorite singer/songwriter. A collection of impeccable, deeply felt performances, LWD is both a welcome fix for Tragert's devoted fans and the perfect introduction of his talents to a wider audience. Beautifully produced by local guitar legend Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Tragert's first disc in eight years reclaims his title as one of his hometown's most affecting singers, while staking out new and moving musical territory. From the infectious Muscle Shoals groove of 'Singing on the Radio,' to the majestic 'Hands of the Devil,' to the gentle, acoustic 'Tagalong,' Lousy With Desire is a disc that confirms Tragert's local rep in spades. Of course, it doesn't hurt when you've got the cream of Austin's musical talent at your disposal. Tragert is used to working with the best, but just as important this time out was the feel. 'I wanted it to sound like a record made by five guys in a week,' says Tragert, and he succeeded brilliantly. Newcomb and Tragert are joined by drummer Dana Myzer (Cotton Mather), bassist Michael 'Cornbread' Traylor (Billy Joe Shaver, Alejandro Escovedo), and keyboardist Ron Flynt (20/20), a core band that provides powerful, empathetic backing for the whole range of Tragert's songs. The most obvious touchstones are the lilt of '70s soul and the dynamo thrum of straight-ahead rock and roll, but like other great songwriters who have mined those rich traditions -- John Hiatt, Graham Parker, Steve Earle -- Tragert makes them his own, again and again. Unexpected touches, like Newcomb's delicate, Bill-Frisell-style accents on 'What Else Can I Do,' or the eponymous string quartet of the tongue-in-cheek 'Tosca Girls,' add depth and distinction to an already stellar set. Like a lot of terrific singers, Tragert tends to get tagged as a blue-eyed soul man. ('My eyes,' he notes dryly, 'are brown.') But that description doesn't begin to do justice to the breadth of his talent, as even a few minutes listening to Lousy With Desire makes quite clear. Ultimately, no matter how famous your fans are, your work has to make it's own friends out in the world. One can only envy the lovers of great rock and roll about to get acquainted with Walter Tragert.