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“The Rented Tuxedo and Other Songs” from Jon Patrick Walker

Life on the road for a rocker or singer/songwriter can be quite fruitful. It’s great fodder for lyric inspiration, and even greater fuel for human connection. All those long hours of watching the cornfields in the big open bus window, or stopping by an interstate diner, opens up a menu of characters and backstories. It’s not surprising, then, that the new nine-track, The Rented Tuxedo and Other Songs, from Jon Patrick Walker has an open-diary-like style. Always moving forward, and grooving towards something, just below the hum of the guitar and the bustling percussion, is Walker’s true compass: home and family. 


Walker, who is a prolific actor and most recently was featured as King George in the touring production of Hamilton, previously released The Guilty Party (2013), People Going Somewhere (2016), You & I (2018), Welcome to the Edge Times (2019) and The Great Unraveling! (2021). The Rented Tuxedo and Other Songs is co-produced by Roger Moutenot in Nashville, with the exception of the title track being recorded in Memphis. Walker is married to actress Hope Davis and they live with their two daughters and two dogs, with homes in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles. 

One of the first things you notice about Walker’s style and songwriting is his quick wit. He’s clever and perhaps more comical than you realize. Some might call that not taking themselves too seriously, but it’s obvious that these words are all bleeding from his soul. What impressed me most, though, is the way he delivers these words. He has a definitive range, and from the get-go in “Auto-Tune My Love” he invites the listener into his whimsical world. I was struck at how quickly I understood what he was communicating. That he was conveying how much he loved this person, how hopeful and true his love is. The dust on his vocals suggests he’s a rugged soul, a damaged good. On the contrary, he’s as real as it gets, and those pipes have a lot of singing left in them – he’s really good. The sweltering steel guitar climbs around his voice like a vine, almost overtaking him. I found it interesting to use that instrument when the word ‘auto-tune’ is in the title. That instrument sounds so rustic to me, the opposite of modern. 


“The Stars, the Moon and the Sun” is another gem. Whereas “Auto-Tune My Love” is Americana-roots, “The Stars, the Moon and the Sun” is singer/songwriter with a dash of 70s rock. “The Rented Tuxedo”, the title track, is a barnburner. This song had me yearning for more, wondering how the story would end. I won’t give too much away, but the idea of waking up in a strange land, unknown surroundings and wondering how one gets there is a cool song theme. Walker flips the script and the tag-along acoustic guitar breathes an air of mystery and tip-toe like movement. He continues that sometimes surreal sonic journey into other standouts like “Love My Everblue”, which I presume is about meeting his daughter for the first time, and a special memory in the jovial “Lookin’ For Eggs”.

Mindy McCall



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