Walter Egan – Pluck!

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For some artists a hit single can be both a blessing and a curse, and that’s certainly the case with Walter Egan’s 1978 smash ‘Magnet And Steel’. Sure, it gained him a lot of traction, but it also overshadowed much of his other deeper, and varied work. However, his latest album Pluck! (and fifteenth in total) should propel him back into the spotlight with 14 tracks, each of which sparkle and fizz like bubbles in a bottle of vintage champagne.

The first thing to note is how quintessentially American opening cut (and indeed the whole album) sounds. I’m picking up a definitive Tom Petty vibe to ‘Hard Summer Days’, and it’s a track that’s tuneful yet slightly off-kilter, not unlike a shark lurking beneath calm water. There’s a duality here that makes for an intriguing listen; it’s light and shade as a buoyant beat is juxtaposed with whimsical lyrics and lithe guitar is tethered by thudding drums. The very title suggests unease, summer should be a flight of fancy, not a time of hardship, and it’s as if Walter Egan has taken all these opposites, collated them into a cohesive whole and in doing so has created the perfect four-minute rock song.

Sometimes life can conjure strange serendipities, and after the untimely death of Christine McVie, a heartfelt cover of ‘Dreams’ (if not planned) tribute. Christine sand backing vocals on the original, but Walter has a long history with Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham sang vocals on the aforementioned ‘Magnet And Steel’, and Nicks was the song’s inspiration) but having a male sing lead vocal certainly puts a new spin on a familiar favourite. Walter handles ‘Dreams’ exactly how all covers should be handled, he puts his own stamp on proceedings, yet stays true to the original. It’s a song that means so much to so many people, and it’s handled with the respect it deserves.

Pluck! is an album that’s constantly shapeshifting, with no two songs inhabiting the same sonic space and takes us on a magical musical ride from the ‘80s new wave feel of ‘Live In Peace’ to the darker side of the ‘60s in the shape of ‘Little One’. However, what holds this album together through all its twists and turns is Walter’s voice, still strong and versatile after all these years, he finds just the right tone to bring each song to life. Therefore, on an album where the vocals are key it might seem strange that exuberant closer ‘Pluck!’ is an instrumental, but the voice is like any other instrument, and part of the magic is knowing when to step back and let others come to the fore, and ‘Pluck!’ makes for an explosive closer, and one you won’t forget in a hurry.

Track List:

  1. Hard Summer Days
  2. Them That Do (3D Remix)
  3. Fallen For You
  4. Dreams
  5. Woman Deluxe
  6. Dolores
  7. Live In Peace
  8. Hurt No More
  9. December Daze
  10. Glad To Be Alive
  11. Little One
  12. Entwined
  13. Honey On The Ground
  14. Pluck!