Ted Russell Kamp’s Walkin’ Shoes (Pomo) is as exciting as it is eclectic. It’s part barn burner, part southern California, part tales from the road, and definitely all golden. Kamp is best known as the longtime collaborator and bass player with Shooter Jennings, dating back to the earliest .357’s days. Kamp is also a highly sought after session player, having lent his talents to the likes of Jessi Colter, Wanda Jackson and even Billy Ray Cyrus among others. If there’s a more stoic, reliable guy playing the low end in country music out there, I can’t name him. If you need proof, all one needs to do is take a listen to Walkin’ Shoes for starters.
Kamp has assembled a spectacular ensemble of musicians here, with special guest appearances from Sam Morrow, Jamie Wyatt and Brian Whelan. The playing is simply beyond words. Every note has a purpose, with Kamp leading the way, playing his bass as a lead instrument, but ever so subtly.
Of special note is the blazing guitar parts. John Schreffler, Whelan and Dan Wistrom all handle guitar on the album, and I can actually envision some poor Telecaster smoldering in a corner somewhere at the conclusion of these sessions.
The songs are exceptionally well written and strong . Some are ‘traveling songs’(“Highway Whisper,” “Home Away From Home”). Some are personal testimonies (“Heart Under Pressure,” “Don’t Have To Be Alone”). Ted Russell Kamp’s Walkin’ Shoes is a damn fine album that probably will not garner the attention or respect it deserves. As unfair as it is, some of these songs could quite possibly be made into radio hits by someone else. The Eagles, Zac Brown or some Nashville pretty boy will come along, add a bit of sugar and flash to a song like, “Paid By The Mile” (co-written by Sam Morrow) or “Home Away From Home,” and make it a hit. I hate it, and again, it sure ain’t fair, but at least it’s something I suppose.
What Kamp has done here is release an album that immediately calls to mind the country music of the mid to late 70’s. It was a time when country music artists were releasing albums of vast substance. It was an era where songwriters looked to soul and gospel influences as much as they did country. Back then it was hard to differentiate a radio hit from a deep cut. Every track on those albums melded together, despite their obvious differences, and you loved every track because of it. That’s exactly what Kamp has managed with Walkin’ Shoes. With a nod to it’s title, it’s an album that grows more and more broken in, and comfortable with each listen. These songs have seen some miles, but that’s okay. They’re earthy, rich and even vaguely familiar. Highlights for me included “Highway Whisper,” “Freeway Mona Lisa,” “Heart Under Pressure,” and the intimate “This Old Guitar.” But in truth, one can find a different highlight with each listen. That’s the mark of a fine crafted release, and that’s exactly what Walking Shoes is. I can’t recommend it enough.
You can find more information on Ted Russell Kamp and Walkin’ Shoes here: http://tedrussellkamp.com/