CD Review: Joe K. Walsh – If Not Now, Who?

A member of the acoustic supergroup Mr. Sun and on the faculty of the Berklee College Music, Joe K Walsh has become one of the leading innovators in the roots music world. In January 2023, he will be releasing a new collection of instrumental music. Joining him in bringing these tunes to life is an incredible lineup of deep and thoughtful improvisers. Grant Gordy on guitar, John Mailander on fiddle, Matt Flinner on banjo, Karl Doty on bass, Ella Jordan on fiddle and John Suntken on drums.

In this latest release, we dive into Joe’s tune writing and arranging over the course of ten tracks. His melodies are a wonderful blend of the familiar and the unexpected keeping us tied to each moment. The interplay between each instrument is incredibly engaging, enveloping us into a musical conversation between some of the best musicians on the scene. These conversations are filled with high level phrasing, refined melodies, and a sense of humor.

“Globe Thistle”

The open track “Madison” gives us an introduction as they vamp on one chord with a bluesy triplet feel. It features two fiddles both in harmony and responsive trades. On the tracks “When It’s Over” and “Palmer” we hear beautiful writing that features Joe on mandola. Joe plays with texture changes in the arrangement of “Globe Thistle” and during one section, breaks down to just guitar and mandolin in a stride piano like fashion. In the title track “If Not Now, Who?” and in “Rosalind” we continue to hear the interaction of the band especially between the drums and melody. In “Home” Joe ironically shifts from chord to chord and obscures the key bringing us on a journey. In “The Bills”, Joe references some of Bill Monroe’s and Bill Frisell’s writing reminding us of the tradition of music that has influenced him. We get another beautiful melody with the tune “Tom” that towards the end, is played by mandolin and bowed bass with fiddle responding. Joe brings the album to a close on “41 Years” with the same triplet feel that we heard at the beginning.

Joe is one of the best tune writers you could find and it is a true pleasure to hear a full album of his originals. Listen to each track and let yourself engage with the conversation of the moment. It will bring you on an unpredictable journey that draws stability from the great tradition of music.

Korey Brodsky

Korey Brodsky is a Boston-based mandolinist and guitarist. Growing up in Connecticut, he built strong roots in bluegrass music. Since then, his musical explorations have ranged from old time to Bach to jazz. He has been featured in numerous publications such as Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and Bluegrass Unlimited, was a 2013 IBMA Youth All Star, a member of the 2018 Acoustic Music Seminar, and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. Over the years, he has toured and recorded with various local and national bands and is currently a member of Mile Twelve. In addition to performing, he teaches weekly online and in person music lessons.

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