Album Review: Joe Walsh — Analog Man

Ken Morton, Jr. | June 27th, 2012

joewalshanalogmanTwo decades after his last solo record, Joe Walsh utilizes the opportunity to reflect a little on where he’s been on new album Analog Man. For the casual fan, Walsh is easily best known for his slide guitar work and occasional vocals with the mega-huge band, the Eagles. His distinctive style of singing at the top of his register will be forever associated with his solo-turned-Eagles hit “Life’s Been Good.” Here, on an album in which the CD (remember those?) is designed to resemble an old vinyl LP, he brings in Jeff Lynne as co-producer, and, in a style that is a cross between Bob Seger and some of George Harrison’s last work, Walsh plays the old sage while proving that he’s not quite ready for his AARP card yet.

The lead-off and title track sets the stage and is one of the top songs of the year thus far. Walsh complains that the digital world has left him in the dust: “Welcome to cyberspace/I’m lost in a fog/Everything’s Digital/I’m still analog.” Though technology might vex Walsh, he takes a moment to preach his observations on the cultural destruction he has seen along the way: “The whole world’s glued to the cable TV/It looks so real on the big LCD/ Murder and violence are rated PG/Too bad for the children/They are what they see.”  It’s the first of several serious points he will make across the project. Nowhere does Lynne’s handiwork make itself more visible than on “One Day at a Time,” a song could easily be found on a Traveling Wilburys album. The track is a celebration of his sobriety, and the upbeat arrangement contrasts beautifully with the serious lyrics about finally taking personal responsibility for a lifelong problem.

Walsh brings in some of his friends to assist on the album to terrific effect. Ringo Starr plays drums on the story of humble gratitude called “Lucky That Way.” David Crosby and Graham Nash join in on a strings-heavy survivor story called “Family.” Walsh’s superlative guitar work is the other tie that binds the album together. He showcases his slide guitar skills on every track, yet saves the most striking showcase until the last track, an instrumental called “India”  that makes it easy to see why CMT has recently chosen Walsh to headline their CMT Crossroads show with other prominent country guitarists.

Twenty years is a hell of a long time between albums and in that amount of time, the world has dramatically changed around Walsh. One constant? His consistent excellence in delivering rock and roll. “Life’s Been Good”– and continues to be good– to the musician.

3.5 Stars

Preview or purchase Analog Man

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