For those who may have forgotten that all American music — pop, jazz, R&B, rock, show tunes, even gospel music — has its roots in the blues, Seth Walker offers a refresher course in blues based American music. Walker’s been pigeonholed as a blues man, but he’s much more. His songwriting is professional in the old sense of the word; like Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, he uses the blues as a backbone for tunes that will equally please roots, Americana, folk, pop, and blues fans. He’s a fine guitarist, but his playing never calls attention to itself, it’s always placed in service of the song and the lyrics crackle with insight and subtle wit. He laughs with us, not at us. “I Don’t Dance” is a smooth south-side shuffle wherein Walker complains about his lack of dance floor dexterity; the band rocks and while he stumbles wondering what to do with his feet, he brings a smile to your face with his understated humor. “In the Dark” borrows a Howlin’ Wolf-like groove for a song about a clueless guy who can’t see the love that’s staring him in the face. Colin Linden’s guitar is sinister and playful as it weaves in and out of Walker’s vocal line. “I Got a Song” is a beautiful Ray Charles style ballad with an aching lyric, a big string section, smoky piano bar keyboard work from Kevin McKendree, and one of Walker’s most soulful vocals. “Rewind” is a second-line strut about lost love that sounds like an R&B hit from the ’60s, while “Lay Down” is a relaxed gospel tune marked by mellow resonator guitar. Walker also has a winning way with covers. Nick Lowe’s “Lately I’ve let Things Slide” straddles country and R&B to interpret an arch song about aging, loneliness, and mortality. Poignant pedal steel and honky tonk piano give the tune a careless air belied by the lyric and Walker’s weary vocal. Percy Mayfield’s bluesy “Memory Pain” comes from someplace halfway between New Orleans and L.A., and Walker gives the tune just the right nostalgic touch. Walker lives in Austin, TX, a town perfectly suited to his expansive style, and this is his sixth album, a solid gem that should be in everybody’s collection. Seth Walker Leap of Faith is available now!