Bradley Walker

Highway of Dreams

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Bradley Walker has been singing country music since his toddlerhood, and throughout his youth he performed in a variety of country and bluegrass bands. His debut as a solo artist finds him joined by a rather awe-inspiring array of guest artists who include Rhonda Vincent, Vince Gill, rising star Alecia Nugent, producer Carl Jackson and many other bluegrass and traditional country luminaries, and performing songs in that sort of mostly-acoustic-and-bluegrassy-but-with-drums style that is becoming increasingly popular. What's significant about this album is not the fact that Walker was born with muscular dystrophy and performs from a wheelchair, but that he sings like a cross between George Jones and Brad Paisley, in a warm, rich baritone voice that alternately nails and caresses the notes he sings. Traditionalism cuts both ways, of course: one of country music's great traditions is the marriage of sweet, hooky melodies with stomping honky tonk grooves, and Walker celebrates that tradition on such gems as the especially Jones-esque "When I'm Hurtin'" and the gorgeous "Lost at Sea." Unfortunately, there are some other country music traditions that are less worth celebrating, and those are celebrated here as well: the well-established tradition of overly cute wordplay, often expressed in a gospel context ("A Little Change") and that of stupefyingly maudlin tearjerker lyrics, again often expressed in a gospel context ("We Know Where He Is"). If Walker's voice weren't so spectacular, songs like these would be unbearable. But most of the album showcases a perfect fit between his exquisite singing, the expert accompaniment of his session players, and thoroughly enjoyable honky tonk-bluegrass songs. Highly recommended.

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