Personnel: Walter Trout (vocals, guitar); Sam Avila (Hammond b-3 organ); James "Hutch" Hutchinson (bass guitar); Kenny Aronoff (drums).
Walter Trout is an electric bluesman who has logged in lots of experience as both a sideperson (including work with John Mayall) and as a leader of his own bands (including the Free Radicals). As the reference to Mayall might suggest, he also adds a healthy dose of classic rock to his blues on The Outsider, working in the tradition of Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and, in general, Stevie Ray Vaughan. The slow, rocking blues of the title track, in fact, may remind one of "Red House" or "Texas Flood." This isn't to accuse Trout of being derivative so much as to note that he, like many blues artists, is working within well-worn traditions that place more emphasis on creating an individual voice within the limits of that tradition than leaving the tradition behind. To that end, the Eastern underpinning of a song like "Sanjay" works much better for establishing Trout's talents than the title track. Likewise, the acoustic "Turn Your Eyes to Heaven" offers an easy-flowing, open-ended musical space that mimics the spirituality of the lyric. One of the primary strengths of The Outsider is its eclecticism within the blues-rock tradition, an approach that shows Trout's range, but also one that prevents one musical style from becoming too dominant. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.