A founding member of the band I See Hawks In L.A. and a respected musician among his contemporaries, Robert Rex Waller Jr. releases his second solo project. A debut album of cover songs, FANCY FREE, appeared back in 2016 and this follow-up is produced by Carla Olson, Los Angeles-based songwriter, musician and original member of the legendary Textones. Her credits as a producer run deep and she also appears on these tracks with occasional contributions on guitar and harmony vocals. Waller continues to dip into his musical influences and the thirteen songs selected include such gems as The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (Crewe/Gaudio) and Tougher Than the Rest (Springsteen). Also included is Gypsy Rider (Clark) and Reconsider Me (Lewis/Smith). His choices blend seamlessly together, whether with it’s in the country swing of Easy Loving (Hart) or the rocking Amanda Ruth. The classic soul sound of I’ll Never Dance Again (Anthony/Mike) has Matt Von Roderick on trumpet and There’s No Living Without Your Loving (Kaufman/Harris) bounces out of the speakers with a big sound.
Waller does have one co-write on the sweetly melodic My Favourite Loneliness which also credits Paul Marshall, bass player with the Hawks band. There are also appearances from band-mate Paul Laques on guitar and Kaitlin Wolfberg on violin, viola and cello. Skip Edwards (Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin) appears on all the tracks and his rich sound on piano, keyboards and accordion adds greatly to the overall feel. However it’s the dulcet tones of Waller that dominate and his voice is like a seasoned brandy in the delivery. The songs are given great character through his vocal tone and timing, lifting the arrangements and confirming his status as a Californian treasure. A fine album.
Review by Paul McGee