On the night of his album release, PT Walkley entertained a packed Blender Theater audience by playing his debut album Mr. Macy Wakes Alone track by track in its entirety. With a full band – at times reminiscent of an orchestral arrangement — Walkley conducted the band with the simple nodding of his head. From backup singers to string arrangement, Walkley’s showcase was one not to be missed.
Perhaps the most versatile musician I’ve seen in concert, Walkley’s voice changed drastically from song to song. One example is the mere difference from second song “Why,” where he exercised a softer, more angelic voice complete with fitting string and horn accompaniment, and then made the shift to the deeper and edgier track “No One Needs To Know” — and that was just in the first 10 minutes of his set.
What makes Walkley stand out from other up-and-coming musicians is the content of his album. He has said in interviews that he hopes to bring back cover-to-cover listening and seemingly does so, as the characters and themes on each track intermingle throughout Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. His publicity is doing pretty well, especially after being hand picked by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin to open their Madison Square Garden show.
Not your average singer-songwriter, Walkley has also composed music for several Ed Burns films as well as had his music placed in numerous commercials including MasterCard and GE. With so much varied musical exposure, his diversity in concert no longer seems all that surprising, but continues to impress concertgoers as heard from the screams and applause after each song's end.
With string, horn, percussion and continuous guitar and backup vocals, Walkley’s set did not disappoint. Slower ballad “Coming Over” showcased his deep and trance-like vocals. With the complement of a harp, the concertgoer had the relaxed vibe of being on a tropical island, easily picturing palm trees swaying in the background. Always quick to change the mood from song to song, next track was energetic “The Lucky Ones.” The song featured Walkley’s wife Michelle on infectious backing vocals. Their voices blended beautifully together, and the light musical accompaniment fit well, never overpowering the song's main vocals and narration.
While “Evolution” sounded almost planetary at times, “Calvin the Coroner” had a carnival-esque feel to it. With a faster piano introduction and crescendo of Walkley’s vocals at the end of each line, the song is quirky with lyrics, “When Calvin was a boy there was a lot to comprehend/A high imagination but he never had a friend/His father bought the funeral parlor just around the bend from the Macy’s/He helped around the basement and he swore he’d never tell/He couldn’t stand the bodies but he grew to like the smell/Formaldehyde and suicide were words that came too well to a young boy.”
Before playing upbeat track, “Audrey Macy” Walkley introduced the song by saying, “This song is about a murder and a girl named Audrey Macy.” A captivating tale of a trust fund girl who is never satisfied, she eventually kills her father to inherit money he already has spent, thus forcing her to work the rest of her life. Yet another example of Walkley’s versatility, with fitting electric guitar and percussion, the music only assisted him to tell the story effectively.
With rave album reviews and having recently opened for Coldplay, PT Walkley has definitely been making a name for himself. Setting the bar well beyond most musicians these days, Walkley begs the listener to pay attention to every detail of his performance and album as the recurring themes and characters only make sense when listening cover to cover. Definitely an ambitious musician, Walkley is breaking the mold of the music industry as we know it today, and it would behoove every music lover to give him a listen.
You can read this review, originally posted on Filter here. For more on PT Walkley, be sure to visit his MySpace.