Blues is music of emotion, at its very core are emotions of loss, sadness and heartbreak, but over the decades that this seemingly simple genre has refused to sit still, it has taken on lots of different guises.
Rock is based around its three-chord structure with mighty bands such as AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac and ZZ Top benefitting from the meagre beginnings. Jazz greats such as Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and a whole plethora of Blue Note artists evolved their sounds from its musical sparsity, and then there are large touring groups like Tedeschi Trucks Band that employ guitars, drums and horn sections to push the music even further.
It’s true to say that blues is going nowhere and why would it when it has to compete for space with people like Robert J Hunter who are taking the recipe used by Free and Bruce Springsteen and delivering it, fresh and steaming to the waiting crowds.
For anyone that loves the grit and growl of blues music, Hunter will be no stranger to your record collection and it’s simple to see why, his music is energetic, powerful and seeped in the blues tradition. And his music has a drive to it, it’s encouraging to hear a band that have taken the formula and added fun to it. This is music to drive your car to, to share drinks and stories with your friends and, ultimately, dance to in a venue when the world returns to the stage.
As an album, Nothing But Rust, is a sit-up-and-listen experience, there is no slow, world-weary opener, it kicks off with ‘Suitcase Blues’ and informs the listener that this is going to be a hell of a ride. There is little time to buckle in before belter follows belter and you’re in the company of a band who, like it or not, won’t be happy until you’re on their side. It’s difficult not to like this album because it feels like Hunter grew up with the same record collection as a lot of us.
I know I mentioned Free before, but the same energy drips from this band and the album doesn’t let up, there are no fillers here, each song is a cracker and it’s easy to understand how this band is getting (deserved) attention.
‘Easy Street’, The Losing Side’, Kind Hearted Woman’ and ‘Freewheelin’ all hit the spot and hold up to repeat listening.
If you’re one of those people that listens to most of todays musical output, where the music is secondary to YouTube hits and Instagram followers, and wonders why heart has been replaced blips, bloops, drum loops and samples, give Robert J Hunter a listen, because this is a slice of blues rock with heart in barrel loads.