Hotwalker

Subtitled Charles Bukowski and a Ballad for Gone America, HOTWALKER (HighTone), from El Paso singer-songwriter TOM RUSSELL , is not an album of songs but rather an ambitious, historical audio collage of music and spoken word that pines for the heady days of Jack Kerouac, Dave Van Ronk, Woody Guthrie, Lenny Bruce, and Russell pen pal Bukowski. Russell slops the atmosphere on thick, like a first-time filmmaker. His voice commands attention, even if he narrates on occasion as if he were reading from Leviticus. But to what end? While carny Little Jack Horton is a wonder, the unfocused rants and out-of-context clips from the Beats only muddle the point. Ultimately, Hotwalker suffers from a pervasive bitterness. In order to raise a glass to the past, is it necessary to dismiss everything else?

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