Marty Walsh is not the current Mayor of Boston. But he could be his stand in, if slicked his hair down with some Brylcreem. No, Marty Walsh is a nearly legendary guitar player and composer whose influence music spans better than 30 years, while working with some of some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
On the music side, he's played, from LA to New York and likely places unknown, with Neil Diamond, Eddie Money, Supertramp, Leann Rimes, Dolly Parton, Freddie Jackson, and Donna Summer, only to name a few. Then there's all the work he's done for television and movies. Currently he's an instructor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Meanwhile, he's found the time to record his first instrumental solo album, The Total Plan. Next thing you know, he'll find time to run for mayor.
One listen to The Total Plan, will convince you of what everybody knows: Walsh has some talent. His guitar playing is extraordinary, yet elegant in its straightforward pursuit of innovation and melody. But this is something of a matter of fact. This is definitely a 'guitar' album, but also much more.
Likely, the best thing about this album is Walsh's gifted songwriting, arranging, and pulling together a host of talent friends players to pull it off. Several examples should suffice to show the 'much more' of this album. Take Coast to Coast with interplay between guitar and saxophone, and significant bass line. Inside The Rain, which follows, finds Walsh's guitar more subtle balanced between acoustic and electrics. Then the music sparked once more by saxophone and trumpet that gives it a true feeling jazz rock fusion. Groove Mechanic wiggles its way through classic rock, with jazz notes, thanks to bright piano, but also some old school organ lines. Saxophone returns within Now Is The Time, a song with a nearly Westcoast gentleness to its atmosphere, but could be found playing a jazz club from Brooklyn to Soho.
All this is not to diminish Walsh's significant guitar play, just to show that he's more than that. More guitar centered songs come with the rambunctious Feeling Free, the subdued, nearly visceral, Now Is The Time (with synth play from his son Ian), and light melody of Back Pages, an acoustic foil to the electric side of the album.
While The Total Plan is definitely an aspiring guitar player's dream, it's also a lesson in music beyond mere fancy fret work for the student. Composition and arrangement are also taught. For the non-musician, the listener, the simple lover of music, as myself, this album is simply a delight, a pleasant and entertaining listen, and something to be shared. For Marty Walsh, I can't say, but he should be pleased, and inspired to return with more. Easily recommended.
Marty Walsh, one the best guitar players you probably never heard of, delivers some great guitar playing wrapped in some terrific song composition.
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