ight, Walker & Co. have an explicitly political agenda here, as evidenced by his liner notes (he dedicates the song One to "our former President, George Bush, for all the lies") and the American flag-themed artwork that graces the cover. Whether on a rock-infused version of Robert Johnson's Stones in My Passway or a wafting 3/4 blues ballad like the wronged woman's lament Stomped All Over, the band lays down sounds that invoke steely resolve to fight against mistreatment-both personal and political-and strive for a better day.
Walker either wrote or co-wrote everything here except the Johnson song, and he's adept at melding tough-minded righteousness with non-didactic lyric flair. The title song, an autobiographical vignette of a ghetto child who came up[ the hard way, both laments hard times and praises the human resiliency it takes to overcome them; the lyrics of the aforementioned One [Nation Under U.S.] portray a society in which fear, violence, and despair threaten both the social order and the human soul.
But there are good times on offer, as well. Bump It is a rocked-out barnburner that features vocalist Shanna Jackson at her strongest, as she shouts out admonitions to "Shake it, rock it, move, grove it, let it roll" with unfettered abandon. On Exquisite Soul, a burbling up-tempo ballad, she entreats, "I'm beautiful down in my heart/ why don't you come on and be beautiful, too?" over a crisp, timbale-and-bass propelled backing.
The only potential drawback of this set is Jackson's difficultly with some of Walker's rhyme schemes and melodies, which occasionally sound labored. If you can acclimate yourself to her vagaries of pitch and the sometimes odd, off-beat syllabic curlicues of Walker's lyrics, this disc provides a satisfying blast of high-energy modern blues with a funkrock edge, as well as a bracing message of resistance and hope.