Robert J. Hunter – Songs for the Weary
No one howls like blues singer Robert J. Hunter on his debut album Songs for the Weary out this month. Of course, no one like the Wolfman himself. Hunter’s husky, dirty blues vocals shine on this freshman effort, prompting a thoroughly unique album of pain, reflection, and the occasional dance ditty.
Norn in the Channel Islands, Hunter started playing music at age fourteen and signed to Spectra Records in December of 2013. It’s a one-of-a-kind listen with Weary. There’s just enough high energy and that undefinable star quality that drives Hunter’s record. Audibly, you picture Hunter as a 6-foot-tall, burly, hairy woodsman with the best beard of Movember. But that’s no dig at the fella. It just feels like one hell of a time.
“Turning” begins the album on a high note with foot-stomping guitar riffs before you’re sucker punched by Hunter’s thick voice. His single “Demons” is a sing-a-long from the gate, and the party continues from the first track. Poetically, Hunter sounds like a demon himself here, creeping in on you while making you nod your head. And, despite its name, “Sleepless Nights” calls for you to dance.
The meat of Songs for the Weary kicks off in the second act when “Nightmares” sneaks up on you as a quiet surprise. The down-tempo track is a record stand out as Hunter is at his most emotionally weighty. Here, the singer bares his soul. He’s a man lost and finding himself, and the dream-like execution (no pun intended) has you living the nightmare with him.
“Witches and Werewolves” – maybe Hunter foresaw the Wolfman reference – plays like a hypnotic Halloween song. Picture Little Red Riding Hiding in a mid-riff and not so little anymore. Neither frightening nor fluffy, seductive rather, it belongs on thirty second teasers for television’s most alluring guilty pleasures.
The deeper you go into this debut album you witness the breakout of a musician who can very well become a hall of famer. He sounds like no one else today, which, on the other hand, can also become his down fall. Sometimes, Hunter’s hoarseness comes at the expense of making out lyrics. The track titles aren’t always the most welcoming and you may not be able to differentiate one track from the next. Still, Hunter lacks in variety he makes up for in being different himself. Yet another highlight is “See You in Hell,” a down-tempo that makes you visualize being in a drunken stupor at a Nashville bar. He sings “You tried to put me down/I won’t go without a fight.” It’s a blues man at his best, demonstrating searing vocals and great depth of emotion. “Chains’ ends the record somberly, a counter to the first track, beginning with electric guitar riffs that vibrate and linger. You experience the complexity of Hunter’s soul, hearing the pain underneath his possibly Bourbon-soaked breath. It’s gospel-like and quite magical.
Hunter’s debut album is one for the books, a distinct examination of a human being in the highs and lows of his existence, all with an unforgettable growl.
Primary URL: http://robertjhunter.co.uk/