Review: 'Wolfman' Washington's album is deeply New Orleans

Review: 'Wolfman' Washington's album is deeply New Orleans
This cover image released by Anti- Records shows "My Future Is My Past," by Walter Wolfman Washington. (Anti- Records via AP)

Walter “Wolfman” Washington, “My Future Is My Past” (Anti-Records)

Inside a New Orleans studio, Walter “Wolfman” Washington takes a sip of his drink, puts the glass down — ice cubes percussively chinking — and strums an acoustic guitar while singing about the unwanted consequences of a “wild romance.”

After “Lost Mind,” Washington, a stalwart of the local blues and R&B scene, invites drummer Stanton Moore, pianist David Torkanowsky and bassist James Singleton to join him. With guest vocalist Irma Thomas — Washington was in her first band — they tackle David Egan’s “Even Now.”

Washington puts his guitar down for “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes,” accompanied only by Singleton and Mike Dillon on vibes and percussion, but picks up an electric one for a solo rendition of “Save Your Love For Me.”

The funk in Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “I Don’t Want to Be a Lone Ranger” is condensed and filtered through Jon Cleary’s Hammond B3 and Washington’s elastic solo, while Moore and Singleton return to help add urgency and speed to “Steal Away,” the Jimmy Hughes ballad.

Ivan Neville walks in to play a Fender Rhodes on “She’s Everything To Me,” a Doc Pomus/Dr. John tune also covered by Johnny Adams, whom Washington played with for many years. It’s only Cleary on piano for Allen Toussaint’s “I Cried My Last Tear,” as Washington’s voice and guitar make a real weeper of the tune once released by his cousin, Ernie K-Doe.

Pianist Steve De Troy boosts the jazz quotient on “I Just Dropped By To Say Hello,” while the 74-year-old Washington’s own “Are You The Lady” closes the album with some Lou Rawls-style blues to spare.

“My Future Is My Past,” produced by Galactic’s Ben Ellman, wasn’t recorded in a single session but it’s fun to imagine it was because that’s how fresh and cohesive this magnificent album sounds and feels.