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Sammy Walker

Misfit Scarecrow – 2008 (Ramseur)

Reviewed by Don Armstrong

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CDs by Sammy Walker

Sammy Walker's sporadic recording career is revived with this highly topical disc. There are references to bisexuality, hip-hop and cancer and songs about global warming, abusive marriages, the murder of Emmett Till, the farming crisis and, of course, 9/11. For good measure, Walker, last heard from 14 years ago, throws in trains, Cherry Coke, William Powell movies, John Prine and Bob Dylan. What's lacking is any real creative fire.

Walker's growly/whiny voice sounds not unlike those of the equally obscure Alastair Moock and Dylan, and his account of Till's 1955 lynching brings to mind Moock's "Cloudsplitter" (about John Brown) and Dylan's "Hurricane" (about boxer Hurricane Carter). Why it is so much less compelling is part what makes art so wonderful and this disc, with its clumsy, crowded phrasings and lack of subtext, so mundane. On occasion, as in the paternally didactic "Song for Jessie," it sounds like prose translated whole to song. As with so much of "Misfit Scarecrow," it sounds good in theory, but merely clumsy in Walker's handling. He goes beyond usurping themes and cultural markers on "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone," which bears nothing in common with the Carter Family classic, not even humility