Seth Walker has announced his eleventh album, I Hope I Know, will be released May 20 on Royal Potato Family. It’s the North Carolina-based singer/songwriter’s third studio collaboration with producer Jano Rix. Each song on the ten track collection shines with what many have come to love about Walker and his soulful Americana: diverse influences, contemplative lyrics, that signature blue tone on the guitar, and movement both geographic and spiritual. The album’s first single, “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” is out today (listen/share). Walker will support the album with a U.S. tour beginning in May.
I Hope I Know might best be described as Walker’s ’round-midnight album. Written in the midst of a breakup, relocating from his home in Nashville, TN to Asheville, NC, and the enduring mental struggles of the pandemic, it’s a beautiful reckoning with heartbreak, moving across states and coming to terms with the uncertainty of the future. Its tempos are slower and tonality darker than on previous work. In Walker’s words, he had to just “sit with it.” The music’s creation embodied trying and failing without forcing anything: not time, not the songwriting or its grooves, not a sense of control, not even his own healing. He credits the practice of “search and surrender,” a quest for new meaning in things he may never fully understand.
“This last year and a half has personally cracked me open. In many ways, for the first time, I’m observing myself and how I relate to the music, how I sit with the feeling, the emotion, my shadow and light,” explains Walker. “I have always been in this place of action, and finally, when all this happened, I found myself in a place of relinquishing—an active state of inaction.”
The first sessions for I Hope I Know began in 2019, but it wouldn’t be until the second half of 2020 when Walker would truly dive into the writing and recording process. Oliver Wood—Jano Rix’s bandmate in The Wood Brothers—cowrote three of the songs, as did Walker’s longtime songwriting partner Gary Nicholson, while Jarrod Dickenson also contributed to one song. Among the album’s highlights are “Why Do I Cry Anymore,” which asks unanswerable questions about recovering from heartbreak, ultimately coming to the conclusion that love is still worth it. “Remember Me” haunts with old jazz and blues, a falsetto vocal, arco acoustic bass and dusty drums. The title track came from the “Ho’oponopono Prayer,” a Hawaiian poem about forgiveness and reconciliation that his mother sent him, which translates as “I am sorry. Forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Special guest Allison Russell adds vocal harmonies.
Three cover songs featured on the recording offer something familiar to hold onto—a tinge of nostalgia, minus the impulse to cling to the past. The Bobby Charles’ song “Tennessee Blues” perfectly speaks to Walker moving from Nashville into the mountains of Asheville as he tried to “figure out what just happened, post break up.” Van Morrison’s “Warm Love” is the perfect respite and breather. Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain” came spontaneously like a dream; Seth woke up one morning with the song in his head and quickly captured this rendition.
The follow up to Walker’s 2019 album, Are You Open?—which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart—I Hope I Know is a distinct statement from the previous ten recordings in Walker’s discography. In its totality, the songs create a deep, but relatable journey, offering a beacon of light and ultimately safe haven, centered around the most precious of all gifts—Hope.
SETH WALKER – I HOPE I KNOW
1. The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be
2. Why Do I Cry Anymore
3. Hope I Know
4. Remember Me
5. Satisfy My Mind
6. Tennessee Blues
7. Warm Love
9. Buckets Of Rain
10. Peace In The Valley
Available May 20 on Limited Edition 180-Gram Orange Vinyl, CD & Digital Formats
Pre-Order Available HERE
5/19 – Dallas, TX – The Kessler *
5/20 – Austin, TX – 04 Center *
5/21 – Houston, TX – The Heights *
6/3 – Easton, PA – Stoltz Listening Room
6/4 – Wayne, PA – 118 North
6/5 – Putney, VT – Twilight On The Tavern Lawn
6/7 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall
6/9 – Albany, NY – The Linda
6/10 – Exeter, NH – Word Barn
6/11 – Plymouth, MA – Spire Center for the Performing Arts
6/16 – Washington, DC – The Hamilton **
6/17 – Greensboro, NC – Flat Iron
6/18 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
9/1 – Ridgeway, CO – Sherbino Theater
9/4 – Pagosa Springs, CO – Four Corners Folk Festival
9/30 – Sisters, OR – Sisters Folk Festival
10/1 – Sisters, OR – Sisters Folk Festival
10/2 – Sisters, OR – Sisters Folk Festival
* w/ Bonnie Bishop
** w/ Pressing Strings