Early press releases declared that, with the advent of Bo Walton, rock ’n’ roll would “never sound the same”. The problem with making such a claim is that once rock ’n’ roll doesn’t sound the same, it’s no longer rock ’n’ roll. Of course, these days almost anything can be – and often is – called rock ’n’ roll, even heavy metal and hardcore punk. But to the purist, rock ’n’ roll is a specific genre, firmly rooted in 1950s America.Despite being far too young to have witnessed that genre firsthand, Bo grew up devoted to it, revelling in his dad’s record collection of Presley, Cochran, Holly and so on. He all but wore out several of those vinyl discs with the enthusiasm he had for emulating every word he heard, especially those from Elvis. And when he came of an age to be making music of his own, first and foremost it was the rock ’n’ roll path that he followed. Bo may not be the first rock ’n’ roll exponent of the 2010s, but that is absolutely appropriate, because Bo is not banging out tunes of the ilk that require a three-piece backing band with a stand-up bass. He’s been playing that rockabilly style in pubs and clubs for the past few
years; what we are hearing now, on his debut album Waiting On A Dream, is a progression beyond rock ’n’ roll.
This is a long-player full of joyful homages and references to legendary riffs and lyrical phrases. The song structures are in a classic vein, with clearly defined verses, singalongable choruses and deceptively complex guitar solos. Meanwhile, Bo Walton’s vocal delivery is, by turns, smouldering and sultry and whoopin’-and-hollery, giving the likes of Chris Isaak and Imelda May a run for their respective moneys. Thankfully, like his old-school heroes, Bo is also more than capable of holding a tune without resorting to today’s overused pitch-altering technology. From out-and-out rock ’n’ roll (“’s Too Much”, “Down in a Blaze of Love”), to lovelorn ballads (“Wicked Moon”, “Heartbreak Town”) and stadium stompers (“Hangin’ On”, “That’s Not Love”), Waiting On A Dream takes the listener on a musical journey – a journey that even sees guitar giant Mark Knopfler hitch a ride for one track. It’s a varied road travelled here, and the shifting scenery of the tracks, while maintaining a constant rock ’n’ roll backdrop, could easily bring to mind the Fab Four’s With The Beatles. And with that Beatles seed sown, it’s only right that Bo should be moving slightly away from the current vogue for rockabilly and shaping his own sound. Because this English singer/songwriter with a profound love of American rock ’n’ roll could soon be spearheading the second British Invasion.