The country-soul quintet ROBERT JON &THE WRECK are shining the light this fall…
The Orange County band, consisting of Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocals, guitar), Andrew Espantman (drums, backing vocals), Steve Maggiora (keyboards, backing vocals), Henry James (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Warren Murrel (bass) will release their album “Shine A Light On Me Brother” on September 3rd 2021.
If you like the idea of the Blues Brothers playing Rival Sons boogie-woogie tunes in the blazing hot sun at Furnace Creek, with lots of religious soul and some big, brassy razzmatazz, you’re sure gonna love this!
We already described the title track as “sunbaked [like a] cactus pupfish and wire-haired as a grizzly bear… a number of sing-out compassion…”
And the hand-clappy jam “Everyday” is every bit as jaunty-convivial groove-cat as “Shine A Light ” with its evangelical backing chorus, tinkling piano, and those fiery touches of tasty guitar. Yesiree, we need a little preaching, what with the year we’ve had, so thank you Pastor Robert Jon!
“Ain’t No Young Love Song” is dependable heartland rock that’s kinda reminiscent of Born to Run era Boss Springsteen. It comes loaded with good expectations and is filled with hope (low on negativity) but there’s an air of subtle caution, as if any optimistic mood we might dare to conjure could be spoiled (at any moment) by hurtful truth and valid reason. Still, why not sing out loud while we can, huh?
Which is why, perhaps “Chicago” feels slightly muted, slightly less than Pollyannaish in expectation. Is it because love (and life) is all about ups and downs, connections and separations? Special credit must go to saxophonist Jason Parfait for some truly fruity burps on this track and, of course, a triumphant solo piece of oomph. This is a spirit-swaddling hit of rejoicement!
Anyone who ever dealt with (or is dealing with) a loved one who developed mental health problems will know what it feels like to be the sole source of inspiration, fidelity, and concern for the victim. No one else knows about the pressures on supporting people with illness when the rest of the world seems to given up on them and nature itself has turned her back. But the song “Brother” addresses this scenario, and does so in a very moving way.
“The house burns slowly on a Friday night...” sings Robert Jon as the flash-point is reached (with the only redeemer, Henry James, on guitar) — and we, all of us, find comfort & kindness as we return to how things once were and how we hoped all things could forever be. Thus, this is tenderhearted & forgiving.
This is a stout-hearted album of joy and compassion, with much distinguished musicianship, many sublime moments, and overwhelming strength in every note and phrase sung. A master-class in frank and generous expressiveness.
Words: @neilmach 2021 ©
Main image: photo credit © Maurice Moonen
“Shine A Light On Me Brother” is available from www.robertjonandthewreck.com
Robert Jon & The Wreck will take the new album on tour in September/October 2021 and February, April, May, June, and July 2022. The UK tour kicks off in at The Globe in Cardiff on September 16. Special guest on the UK tour is British slide guitarist Troy Redfern.