Jazzhaus Records [Release date 06.05.13]
If ‘Night Life – Live in Holland’ confirmed Danny’s raw ability, then ‘Hurricane’ is a step up and completes his right of passage from a protégé to a fully fledged blues rocker.
Having done the road work, he’s simply grown up and discovered the ability to write convincing songs routed in personal experience. He also has enough confidence in his road tested power trio to launch himself into every possibility the arrangements offer him and the result is an album that nails his signature style.
‘Hurricane’ is a thoughtfully conceived, well constructed album with impressive songs and his best ever vocals. Norwich studio legend Richard Hammerton (Manic Street Preachers) captures Danny’s spark with a majestic production and oversees the essential flow of an album that showcases Bryant’s potential to the full.
Rarely has his guitar playing sounded brighter, fuller and more assertive. Similarly his vocals have real presence, particularly on the emotive ‘Losing You’ where he digs deep for the emotion of a song that has the kind of lyrics his mentor John Hiatt would have been proud of: ‘Rest your tired eyes baby, go to sleep, there’s no distance left to run, your dreams are safe with me’.
There’s an integral flow to this album that Danny has long been searching for, triggered by quality songs, thoughtful sequencing and all encompassing arrangements. Together with his road tested band and producer, he’s set about moulding his rock-blues bluster and shaping it with a new found maturity.
Look no further than the acoustic layered anthem ‘Painkiller’, which provides the perfect finish to the album. It’s the kind of a heartfelt ballad that could have come from Robert Cray. The poignant lyrics and a beautiful production would surely have been beyond Danny’s scope a few years ago. The huge sounding, belated guitar break is a reminder of just who Danny is, but the musical journey from the balledic intro to the full blown defining solo uncannily parallels this latest career leap. The fade comes far too soon on his best recorded moment.
Long time fans will revel in Danny fiery guitar work and passionate vocals, but there’s a new sense of maturity to this album, born of the growing relationship between the guitarist and producer.
There’s still a strong Walter Trout influence on both Danny’s playing and his song writing, and it serves him well on ‘Prisoner Of The Blues’. The riff driven, powerful arrangement is well suited to Danny essential frisson, but he adds beautifully sculpted guitar tones as part of an enveloping wall of sound. The clever mid-number jangly guitar link, adds an effective dynamic pause leading to a tension busting wah-wah solo that is symptomatic of a big production that plays to Danny’s strengths.
‘Greenwood 31′ is an impressive ode to Hubert Sumlin. The harp-led sledgehammer groove features imposing guitar shapes, train effects and a passionate vocal. He adds a locker full of tones over a muscular rhythm track, with a volume swell outro for good measure.
‘Can’t Hold On’ is a surprisingly piano led ballad, glued together by a sustained opening note. This intuitively produced song perfectly fits the album’s delicate ebb and flow and features one of Danny’s best vocals. It all sounds as if he’s been relieved of the recording burden and just left to concentrate on his songs. The result is a gently paced ballad with stringed keyboards and a sense of grandeur. It’s quickly followed by the synth stabs, Springsteen style guitar figure and the uplifting bv’s of the radio friendly title track, which almost pushes Danny into U2 territory
Everything is in place on the mighty power-shuffle boogie of ‘Devil’s Got A Hold On Me’, from the impressive wall of sound and deep toned expressive licks to the effective echoey call and response. Much like the title track, it’s another landmark track for Danny, as he relaxes and explores the dynamic possibilities of a whip cracking shuffle.
The smoking blues ballad ‘I’m Broken’ brings another change of pace and although he struggles a little with his vocal phrasing, he redresses the balance with a soaring solo. ‘All Or Nothing’ is simply one of the best produced tracks of his career. The keyboard led motif and big screen vista places the emphasis on the melody and lyrical emotion.
There’s only so much you can do with rock-blues before you have to write songs that emulate your playing ability. And that’s exactly what Danny has done on ‘Hurricane’. It’s an album bristling with ideas, stellar playing and great singing and fulfils the potential that Jazzhaus saw in him. This album repays them in full. ****1/2
Review by Pete Feenstra
Interview (April 2013)
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