Gravel throated Irish born bluesman makes a statement
An Irish born bluesman. There may have been one or two of these in rock history, yeah?
Whatever, Ireland is ace as far as we are concerned at MV. Dublin, for goodness sake, has a statue of Phil Lynott, the IT Crowd was written by an Irishman and the one and only gig we’ve ever seen there (Iron Maiden in 2010) featured the wildest crowd we’ve ever been in.
But we digress, the point to this Irish reverie is that where Eric Bell, Rory Gallagher and the rest have trod, comes Robert J Hunter. A prolific writer this 12 tracker is his fourth album and he’s already supported Wilko Johnson and The Animals, there is a feeling that he has really pulled out all the available stops
By and large Hunter sounds like someone who lives to be on the road. Screams of “Say what?!” usher in “Loving Unfortunately”, which offers a mighty groove, his gruff voice and wonderfully tongue in cheek lyrics about losing a friend to a woman. “Well,” suggests Hunter, “he’s gone forever. Come back to the people that you really need,” over a very jaunty hook. Everyone knows someone like this (MV couldn’t possibly comment and he’s absolutely not someone who’s written on this site at all….ahem!) and this everyman type quality shines throughout.
Hunter can very obviously play is instrument with tremendous skill too. “Mr Winter” is more than just a homage to whichever of the namesakes you want to pick, and “Alone” which alters the vibe superbly, has a hint of Tom Petty.
A record that goes exactly where it wants, “Suzy” is rooted in the 70s boogie of Humble Pie and the rest, “Every Heart Has It’s Home” on the other hand, will doubtless make perfect sense in the wee small hours when its you and your iPod.
Hunter has one of those styles that suggests he was born to play the blues. “Bringing Me Down” brings with it a kind of shuffle, “By My Side” has an insistence about it, and “When The Winter Comes” channels something a little more primal and has some brilliant lead work.
The fact this is blues rock, rather than out and out blues, is never better shown than on the funky slide of “Wait Your Turn” and there is another side to “The Fool” that recalls the gravel throated work of the up and coming Broken Witt Rebels.
Perhaps because of the nature of Hunter’s vocals, there is a vicious side to many of these, but even allowing for that, there is a real aggression about “Poison” and even on the almost country flavoured “Keep On Hanging On” he still can’t sound gentle.
And that’s just fine, because there is a rough, gruff up and at ‘em style that suits Robert J Hunter and his music absolutely perfectly. This album is the proof and shows an artist ready to make a real step up.