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Mike Walker

Mike Walker – 2001 (DreamWorks Nashville)

Reviewed by Scott Homewood

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CDs by Mike Walker

With a cover picture that shows the youngish, blonde-haired Walker looking much like a forlorn, forgotten member of 'N Sync who maybe missed the tour bus after sleeping too late at the hotel, it is this picture that proves to be the most interesting part about this release. This is because, for all intents and purposes, Walker's debut sounds ultimately as generic and unmemorable as his name.

From the first song, a party-style rockin' rave-up co-written by NRBQ's best guitarist, Al Anderson, the tone is set. The production standards are high, studio musicians impeccable, every note is played well and perfect...too damn perfect. Which is exactly the problem. This stuff is amazingly well-polished and also completely without soul. It is the perfect, computer-calculated mix of country and rock, yet so bland that neither genre would want to claim this CD or it's artist.

Walker, for his part, just shows up to sing. No songs are his, save one co-write and the covers he chooses, except for a decent cover of Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts' "Memphis Women and Chicken," where Walker puts his surprisingly deep voice to fairly good use, have more depth than he chooses to invest back in, thus sounding insincere and false. The one pleasantly surprising thing is that Walker doesn't have a bad voice. It's a well-deep baritone that sounds like, with the right material, could be put to a much more soulful, and better, use.