Music Review: Walking Papers

Walking Papers / WP2

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On a recent Friday night – late at night – I found myself in Tacoma, WA attending a gig by a local supergroup at Jazzbones. Walking Papers features Barret Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season), Jefferson Angell (The Missionary Position), Benjamin Anderson (The Missionary Position), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, dozens of Seattle punk bands), and sometimes Mike McCready (Pearl Jam, Mad Season, Temple of the Dog). The show was in support of their 2nd album, the cleverly named WP2 and it was doubtful that McKagan or McCready would be appearing. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect. As the clock inched past my bedtime with no sign of the band I felt every bit my age.

Barret Martin, Walking Papers, Jazzbones
Walking Papers performing at Jazzbones  Photo: Jason Adolf

The band took the stage around 11:30 or so and opened with Death On The Lips – a blues/grunge workout from the new album. One thing that struck me was the joy that Barret Martin displays on stage. He inhabits the role of bandleader and does it well. Jefferson Angell is a star – there’s no other way of explaining it. He was the classic frontman – leading the audience in singalongs, telling stories, and really entertaining the sold-out crowd. More than once I found myself amazed to be next to the stage at a small venue witnessing this magic. The setlist leaned heavily on the new album with about 6 tracks from the 1st album. The band excels in quintessential Pacific Northwest garage rock/grunge with a healthy dose of blues. The rockers rocked and the ballads were nuanced in their approach and emotional. The Butcher was a particularly effective ballad that had the crowd entranced by Jefferson Angell’s delivery. I’m sure people had it in the back of their heads that they’d like to see Duff McKagan in person at such a small venue – I did too – but the band stood on their own and made it a night to remember.

Concert prep for me involves listening to a band’s albums repeatedly in the days leading up to the show. For this show, I had the new album WP2 on repeat to the point that I have just about every riff and lyric memorized. I’m not sure how the band did it, but they topped their stunning debut. The new album is heavier in spots with some truly touching ballads. The lyrics are on point and the whole package deserves to be considered a Pacific Northwest classic. The album opens with My Luck Pushed Back which sets the tone for the album. A bluesy rocker that feels like The Rolling Stones filtered through the rain of Puget Sound. Red and White is the 1st of several stunning ballads. The keyboards set the atmosphere. Deeply emotional, it transfixes the listener from the start. I loved this lyric: “I can’t ask you to marry me if I can’t afford the rent”. Don’t Owe Me Nothin’ is my favorite song on the record and I was bummed they didn’t play it at the show. Again, the keyboards create an atmosphere that is spine-tingling. An almost jazzy performance by Barrett Martin on the skins, it compliments the smoky vocals by Jefferson. “You say the world don’t owe me nothin’ / without you where would I be / I don’t want to wake up in the morning / Unless you’re lying next to me”. I Know You’re Lying is a rocker towards the end of the album that has the band locked into a groove, totally in sync. A great bass riff by Duff McKagan holds it all down before a killer chorus and guitar line hits. Perfect.

The album is out now – I also recommend picking up their 1st album. Not a duff track on either album (though Duff is on all of them). The band is currently on tour with Alice in Chains – keep an eye out for hometown shows, they are truly one of the best bands in the Pacific Northwest right now.

Verdict: That Pacific Northwest Sound

For Fans of: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, Guns N’ Roses, Dead Moon

Walking Papers, Jazzbones
Walking Papers performing at Jazzbones
Photo: Jason Adolf

Tracks:

  1. My Luck Pushed Back
  2. Death On The Lips
  3. Red and White
  4. Somebody Else
  5. Yours Completely
  6. Hard To Look Away
  7. Before You Arrived
  8. Don’t Owe Me Nothin’
  9. This Is How It Ends
  10. I Know You’re Lying
  11. Into The Truth
  12. King Hooker
  13. Right In Front Of Me

One thought on “Music Review: Walking Papers

  • April 12, 2018 at 11:12 am
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    This Baby Boomer woman liked the video.

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