On his stellar new album, ‘Gotta Get Back,’ Seth Walker excavates the roots of his love affair with music, by reuniting the family that helped spark the fire in him all those years ago. Walker, who grew up on a multi-family commune in North Carolina, gathered his sister along with his parents, who had been divorced for 20 years, to record the album’s beautiful, sweeping string parts, all of which were arranged by his father. Produced by The Wood Brothers‘ drummer/keyboardist Jano Rix and recorded primarily at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground studio in Nashville, ‘Gotta Get Back‘ is a crowning achievement in Walker’s celebrated career.
The album opens up with the funky “High Time,” a song co-written with longtime collaborator Gary Nicholson and referencing Walker’s newly adopted home of New Orleans. The Big Easy proved to be a fountain of inspiration for the songwriter, who penned a number of tracks there including the swampy “Fire In The Belly” and Caribbean-influenced “Dreamer.” On “Back Around,” a collaboration with Oliver Wood, Walker channels his love of classic gospel, while “Movin’ On” blends elements of country, soul, and Paul Simon-esque folk, and “Way Past Midnight” utilizes dual drummers to capture the buzz of and excitement of his first trips to New York City. Though travel and movement are recurring themes throughout the record, the heart and soul of the album lay in the idea of home and family, of looking to the past in order to find your way into the future. Or as Walker sings on the title track, “I’ve gotta get back / Before I can move ahead,” and he does both here with startling beauty and striking sophistication.
The record marks the ninth release in Walker’s extensive catalog, which has garnered critical acclaim around the world for nearly two decades. NPR hailed his “hard-driving” songs and “sweet tenor,” while the Washington Post praised his “soulful croon,” and the Wall Street Journal fell for his “tasty mix of blues and R&B.” He cracked the Top 20 on the Americana Chart and toured the world countless times over, from festival stages to dates with The Mavericks, The Wood Brothers, Raul Malo, Paul Thorn, and Ruthie Foster, among others.