REVIEWS

Article from: The Bard Chord – Songmaker’s Newsletter January 2016. 

The Latest Spin - Jackie Morris

Inspired by life in his adopted hometown – Ventura, California – multi-instrumentalist Walt Dunlop has, once again, created an authentic, engaging, and timelessly enjoyable album. YOU ARE HERE is a vibrant collection of all-original, acoustic Folk, Folk-Rock and Americana music...melodic, upbeat and charming. 
There is an immediate good-hearted appeal that runs through Walt Dunlop’s music – an appeal that transcends the very considerable sum of talent that produced it.  I chalk it up to the honesty of his songs – rooted in a real place, inspired by real people – and born out of a real affection and compassion for both.    
This was apparent in Dunlop’s first album, as well.  But YOU ARE HERE: Ventura, California goes one step further. I am happy to report that this time -- in his second CD –  Dunlop has opted to professionally produce his songs.  And they are well worth it! 
Dunlop is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. He not only plays 6- and 12-string guitar, mandolin, bass, banjitar, percussion and harmonica...but he also provides many of the harmonies for his songs.  And he is joined, on several tracks, by other gifted musicians, such as David Roine on accordion, mandolin, fiddle and background vocals; Craig Andrews on dobro and background vocals; and Craig Robbins on bass – all bandmates with Dunlop in About Time.     
The songs themselves are refreshingly diverse, with all 11 tracks having been written by Dunlop. The album opens with a great guitar groove underscoring Picnic at Cemetery Park, a bittersweet celebration of life and love, with its foregone conclusion...mortality.  Dunlop wryly observes, “The moment’s not tragic, it’s magic, it’s magic; life it’s for you and me.  But we just can’t go on.  We cannot stay.  You were made of dust and I am made of clay.”  
YOU ARE HERE then blossoms into one of the most memorable, touching songs on the album, Rosa.  Evoking the Spanish heritage of Ventura – a common theme in YOU ARE HERE – Rosa is the story of a poor old Mexican woman, once a dulcet-voiced singer, who now “sells flowers at the off ramp on Main.”  Yet, rain or shine, she finds the strength to “rise up” and do this, day after day.  Accompanied by a Mexican-style accordion, this song is tribute to those many women with this kind of quiet, inner strength. 
The Ballad of Zachary Lee is another stand-out track on this album – a fast-paced, exciting, murder ballad based on a true story.  Although it took place in Ventura not so very long ago, the song has a traditional flavor, reinforced by Dunlop’s harmonica.  It’s a compelling, well-told, story-song! 
It’s followed by Goodwill Gal, a sweet, upbeat song about making a clean sweep of the past after a romantic break-up, and opening up to a happy new start. 
There are a number of humorous tracks, too – like Tips, Coffee and Beer (an ironic look at the musician’s fate)...Kate the Kitchen’s on Fire (strictly for fun, with lots of fiddle, harmonica, and good harmonies)...and Truth, Tall Tales, and Grizzly Bears (the “story” behind the bear on the California flag); And there are a number of poignant tracks, too, like My Old Leather Suitcase and The Mission. 
Still another haunting song is Hardened and Homeless, a very realistic portrait of the homeless in Ventura.  This song is all the more moving and disturbing because it takes a candid look at the despair of a broken person and tells it like it is. 
Finally, not to be forgotten, there is – thankfully – the inclusion once again of one of Dunlop’s greatest songs, Azucena.  It is a gorgeous song – written in the Mexican folklorico tradition – about a sequestered “South-of-the-Border“ Cinderella – the victim of her brothers’ misogyny.  It is, sadly, more topical than ever these days...with our growing consciousness of discrimination against women around the world.  But it is still delightful to listen to, an enthusiastic love song carried on the rhythm of a Mexican polka-style accordion.  
To hear samples of Walt Dunlop’s YOU ARE HERE: Ventura California, just visit CDBaby.com, where you can also order the album, if you wish.  Or visit Walt Dunlop’s website at www.waltdunlop.com . 

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS!

21st Century Connections! 

Welcome!  This is my first time posting to a blog and it feels kind of funny since it's my own site.  I mostly wanted to offer a place where visitors could come and share their thoughts and feelings.  I really look forward to hearing from YOU!