Joel Walter

Heart Of Branches

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A hard rain is gonna fall, and a hard wind blows through this classic-folk record, full of heavy-handled acoustic, dusty blues harmonica, magnus (sounds like melodica), and a gruff voice from the spit ‘n' toil workweek. The Columbus, OH singer is not Dylan, though he may know the same ‘30s/'40s folk blues. Or Ramblin' Jack Elliott, though he's as hardscrabble, full of talking blues. ("The whole world's gone to hell.") But he's as full of folk's trans-generational power, especially on the standout "William Clay" (an ode to Ford chairman, William Clay Ford?), which has all the forceful menace of Leadbelly's "In the Pines" before Nirvana frightened us. Walter is no novice, as his thick, intricate picking shows dig in on a set of lengthy songs (five minutes on average) that are meant to get under your skin, and do.

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