By Vish KhannaWith roots rock icon Charlie Sexton producing, Peter Elkas and friends step up on Wall of Fire, a wonderful batch of soulful rock’n’roll. Though Elkas is proud of his focus, the former Local Rabbit is an eclectic songwriter who tastefully tends to a range of interests and guitar-driven sounds. Grounded in classic soul and R&B, Elkas still blurs genres, seamlessly moving from sweet folk to soft pop to romantic rock with earnest sincerity, crafting a timeless sound all his own. That said, Wall of Fire is very much a collaborative effort; Elkas finally has a steady band (jokingly named the "Elka-holics”) and that camaraderie has led to fully realised songs and a cohesive album. Despite some heavy, heartbreak-oriented subject matter, rockers like "Fall Apart Again” and beautifully arranged pop songs like "Sweet Nancy” and "Something Beaming” possess an infectious spirit, and the players’ pride is palpable. The lovely title track conjures the Band (with George Harrison sitting in on a solo) for its sweeping, impassioned performance, while live staple "Darling See” finds Elkas flirting with playful machismo. Every song shines like a gem and Wall of Fire is more proof that Peter Elkas is one of the most talented popsmiths in the world.
How was working with Charlie Sexton? This was probably the finest recording experience I’ve had because it really came together for the band; we really bonded musically and personally, and Charlie got right in there too. For such a "cool cat,” Charlie’s very willing to goof around and he’s quite a mimic; he imitated Dylan and some times we thought Christopher Walken was in the room.
Is this record a departure? It’s only different from my previous writing style in that hopefully it’s better. On the last Local Rabbits record, I stumbled upon something that was working for my voice: soul and R&B. I think Charlie was nervous when I mentioned those styles to him but the songs were in that vein, so they came off as believable.
And it feels like you’re in a band again? I have a slight feeling of fraudulence referring to the project without a band name attached because they’re a huge part of it. It’s funny when you think about Springsteen, the E Street Band weren’t inducted into the Hall of Fame because their name doesn’t appear on the records. That’s kind of a shame. Actually, I feel worse about Springsteen than I do me. (MapleMusic)