Todd Sharp

Walking All the Way

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His name might not be familiar because Todd Sharp has maintained a low profile even while working with some major artists of the '80s and '90s. He's co-written songs and/or performed with Bob Welch, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Hall & Oates, and most importantly Delbert McClinton. It's the latter's band that backs up Sharp on his first solo release in 16 years. While it's impossible to say that Walking All the Way justifies the wait, the album is a gripping, rollicking set of unpretentious roots rock that catches fire early and never lets up. The specter of '70s Jackson Browne hangs heavy on ballads such as "I Remember," which sounds so much like the folk-rocker -- musically and lyrically -- it could be an outtake from Late for the Sky. There are other well-crafted slow tracks, but Sharp and his band hit a groove most effectively on the swampy rockers that dominate the disc. The seven-minute "Widow Maker" weaves acoustic guitar with a tense bluesy backbeat, sounding like Dire Straits' most incendiary work. "Till I Get Over You" wanders into J.J. Cale territory with a quick shuffle and brushed drums floating on top of Sharp's nimble guitar. It's energized with backing vocals from McClinton and Stephen Bruton. The loping tempo of "Right Down to the Minute" and the stinging guitar of "Walking All the Way to Idaho" push the band into an insistent slow-burn groove further enhanced by Steve Bassett's muscular B3. While there's little unusual about Sharp's sound, his tensile solos, rugged melodies, emotional vocals, and rootsy approach make this a winner. It's an overlooked gem that's worth searching for.

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