The plan going into Phillip Walker's first studio set in nearly a decade (since his last label, Black Top, went belly up) was to revisit some early influences that formed the bluesman's unique approach. Add a few similarly styled originals from producer/Delta Groove label honcho Randy Chortkoff and the results are a comeback of sorts for this classy and underappreciated journeyman guitarist, vocalist, and bandleader. Walker is no stranger to putting his personal stamp on others' songs -- his previous album was also predominantly covers -- but this one takes him back to his roots, as its title infers. He gets into a John Lee Hooker/New Orleans groove on Frankie Lee Sims' "Walking with Frankie"; slows things down on a swampy "Sweet Home New Orleans" with help from its writer, Al Blake, on harmonica; and strips the instrumentation to a core of harp, sparse drums, and tasty guitar for an emotional spin on Lightnin' Hopkins' "Don't Think 'Cause You're Pretty." He burns through Lonesome Sundown's shuffle "Leave My Money Alone" and gets lowdown with Ray Charles' "Blackjack." A backup band of talented vets lends support with a sympathetic vibe throughout. Established guitarist Rusty Zinn generally sticks to rhythm but takes lead duties on three tracks, including a peppy version of Eddie Shaw's "Mean Mean Woman," where his more driving attack meshes nicely with Walker's subtler touch. Jeff Turmes' bass work, especially on standup, provides a sturdy yet flexible bottom that perfectly supports Walker's affable vocals and stylish guitar work. Walker sounds like he's having a blast, and you can practically see the smile on his face as he greets these songs like the old friends they are. The session gels with an effortless vibe like the finest blues discs, and shows just how vital Walker remains, especially with a sympathetic producer, classy material, and a great band behind him.
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AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz