Roots veteran Ted Russell Kamp (TRK) is back with his eleventh solo album, Walkin’ Shoes, a fun and exhilarating ride through love, traveling, and a witty look at the idiosyncrasies of life changes as only a true troubadour can sing them. It’s an aptly named title for these 13-songs, all written or co-penned by Kamp, who is increasingly relying on his poetic side. He combines that with humor and honesty in these songs about exploration, living and learning. As an example here is a troubadour’s credo in one verse from “Paid By the Mile” –
“If I only had a dime for every line on my face/I would buy a drink for every working man in this place/ Give you my two cents tell you all that I been through/ You could take it or leave it/ you could tell me what to do/ But I’d take my time. I’d go in style/If only I got paid by the mile.”
The music is a combination of classic California singer/songwriter music with hints of country and soul. “I wanted to capture a live energy of a handful of musicians in a room,” Kamp describes. “It is also more country influenced with some serious nods to the classic Sun Studio recordings of the late 1950’s as well as when Bob Dylan first went electric.”
These handful of musicians are buddies he plays with as the bassist in Shooter Jennings’ touring band. “When I started to see this record come together, I booked one last session with John Schreffler and Jamie Douglass, as well as Dan Wistrom,” he explained. Other guests on Walkin’ Shoes include Sam Morrow (who co-wrote “Paid By The Mile” and joins Ted singing), Jaime Wyatt (who sings “Heart Under Pressure” and “Freeway Mona Lisa”), and Brian Whelan (who sings “Get Off The Grid”, “Home Away From Home” and plays guitar and keyboards on the record).
When the term “musician’s musician” is casually thrown out there, think about Ted Russell Kamp, sideman, front man, singer-songwriter, producer and international artist. Case in point – here TRK plays electric and acoustic guitars, bass, Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, piano, trumpet trombone, and percussion. He’s a first call session bass player in Los Angeles and is also a producer. As a bassist, Kamp has been playing with Shooter Jennings since 2004 as well as written numerous songs for Jennings including the 2005 hit “Steady at the Wheel”. He has also played with Wilson Phillips, Jessi Colter, Wanda Jackson, Rosie Flores, Billy Ray Cyrus and countless other great artists both on the road and in the studio.
Kamp’s voice is full of wisdom and his economy of words is quite effective (“When you play rock and roll long enough, the blues is what you get” he sings on “This Old Guitar”), tongue in cheek humor (“I could have played it safe, I could have stayed in bed, but I won’t stop and stay at home, I’ll rest when I’m dead” he sings on “Home Away From Home”) and wistfulness (“I’m not asking for much, just a horizon and a touch, of a hobo’s lullaby”) he sings on the spare folk-like “Highway Whisper”.
Walkin’ Shoes is a brisk, upbeat, lively album with plenty of country and bit of rock n’ roll; excepting the requisite weeper “Freeway Mona Lisa.” He even includes the favorite topic of country songs with the up-tempo “Just About Time for a Heartache” With songs like “Less Thinkin’, More Drinkin’”and “Get Off the Grid” TRK relates. He’s urging us to not take life too seriously in this traveling diary. Enjoy the ride.
- Jim Hynes