Rock n Roll to make you dance and character-driven songs to make you think.
If there’s a blueprint for the perfect album then rule number one must be to have a great opening track, and William Russell Wallace delivers with ‘Recklessly’, the opening song on his second full length album.
Rule number two in the perfect album book would be cool it down a little on the second song and ‘Different Savior’ ticks that box as well. The obvious comparison is Tom Petty and Wallace’s voice has a certain similarity. This is reinforced on his cover of Petty’s ‘No Second Thoughts’, and on ‘The Timing’ which would have fit right into ‘Damn The Torpedoes’. That isn’t to say Wallace is a copyist, he has taken the blueprint that Petty, Springsteen, and others have used and added his own twists. Harmonica is a much bigger element of the songs than Petty for instance, and the guitar has a more garage band feel in some places.
Other comparisons would be Tom Waits for the song writing, which Wallace describes as “character-driven”. The overall band sound is not a million miles from bands like the Jayhawks. On ‘Just a little joy (but it’s a real big deal)’ he sounds a bit like an early Rod Stewart. If all this sounds like damning him with faint praise then it’s more that there is nothing startlingly original about Wallace’s music, but it all adds to up to a hugely enjoyable album.
Information about players is non-existent on his website and Bandcamp pages so the identity of his female duet partner on ‘Missoula (Confidence Man Blues)’ ‘Roanoke (Resolution Blues)’ and others remains a mystery. The most we get is that ‘Confidence Man’ was recorded “bouncing between Ohio and California, the album was recorded with a variety of different rhythm sections and helping hands.” It doesn’t show sounding very live and coherent. The album gathers pace as it progresses and by the time ‘Faded Paradise (Don’t mean a damn thing)’ comes around we are in full Rock and Roll mode.
There’s only one song over four minutes and that is the closing ballad ‘I Found a Reason’, which is very much a coda to the rest of the album, in the way of a slow dance at the end of the evening. Having made lots of comparisons to other artists there is more than enough William Russell Wallace in this album to give you a feel of the man and his world. If you want something to get a Sunday morning started, put ‘Confidence Man’ on and you will be dancing round the kitchen pretty quickly.