For the last 30 years, Jon Patrick Walker has worked as a respected actor and musician, most notably tackling the role of King George in the recent national tour of “Hamilton.” Offstage, his musical work careens through a collection of various folk histories, rock lineages and pop antiquities, building to a mesmerizing eruption of singer-songwriter wit, empathy and lyrical nuance that revels in the embrace of an understated awe.
Walker has had quite the prolific run recently, having released three LPS and an EP since 2013. His next album, The Rented Tuxedo & Other Songs, is due out June 12th and was recorded with producer Roger Moutenot in Nashville. Continuing his streak of deftly blurring genre conventions, this 9-track record is uniquely polished with Walker’s own sense of humor, pop-rock sophistication and meticulous melodic sensibilities.
With his latest single, “All-Night Diner,” Walker evokes the spirits of Uncle Tupelo, CSN&Y, and The Band as he luxuriates in the shake and echo of acoustic guitar, organ and bouts of cathartic drumming. He also dips into Dylan-esque territory as his voice shifts between a melodic grumble and something that adopts a more spoken-word directness. The extended instrumental passage that closes the track could well be mistaken for something inhabiting the corridor of Wilco’s recent Ode to Joy. It’s a spectacular reimagining of sounds so firmly impacted upon our collective consciousness that to hear them used in this way is nothing short of astonishing.
“I am really happy to be finally releasing [“All Night Diner”],” explains Walker. “It was recorded in 2014 [as] the first song we did on the first day for [2016’s] People Going Somewhere record. And I wrote the damn song in the early 90s!”
“As soon as I’d recorded the title track to [The Rented Tuxedo,] I knew that “Diner” would be a perfect bookend,” Walker continues. “And indeed, it is the closer, the only position a song with such an epic fade-out could have, I might add.”