Jazzhaus [Released 01.09.14]
2014 has been a truly ground breaking year for Danny Bryant. Aside from starring at the high profile Walter Trout benefit show in London, he’s also toured the US with Trout’s band and at the time of writing he is all set for his first Chinese tour.
‘Temperature Rising’ looks set to build on that momentum and also on last year’s ‘Hurricane’ album, which saw him lock horns with producer Richard Hammerton after a 8 year gap. It’s an album on which all of his essential elements come together and flow through ten songs that sound like a musical life story.
And while it is now apparently de riguer to lean heavily on your producer for your musical direction, Danny had already forged his own path with strong material and his trademark guitar style. What’s new here is the attention to detail, the sweeping melodies and a contemporary feel that casts Danny in a new light.
He’s a fast maturing song writer, a consummate guitarist with a locker full of tones and a passionate vocalist who channels his emotions into the best songs of his career.
He’s put in the road work over the last 15 years and the songs are a result of that. ‘Temperature Rising’ distils the essence of an unreconstructed blues rocker who has just come of age.
He opens with a bang on ‘Best of Me’ with its stuttering rhythm, booming vocals and crunching guitar lines. If you’ve never heard Danny before, it’s the perfect intro to his style. The full clout of Richard Hammerton’s production kicks in on ‘Take Me Higher’, as he brings polish, sheen and grandeur to Danny’s art.
‘Nothing At All’ is a straight ahead rocker with additional piano that would surely make his mentor Walter Trout smile, and it gives the album a fresh injection of energy.
‘Together Through Life’ is a mature reflective ballad, wholly in tune with who he is now, and it’s a worthy equal to ‘Just As I am’. The sister track ‘Time’ also benefits from a cool arrangement and a restrained vocal.
The refreshing thing about this album is that it eschews the temptation to be formulaic, though as on ‘Razor Sharp’, the sparkling guitar work and heavy duty rhythm track is given due emphasis.
The title track has the kind of Tom Petty influenced melodic sensibility that Danny has been searching for. While he’s spent the best part of his career hammering out emphatic blues-rock, this album works so well because of the way he’s broadened his palate without losing any of his spark. This is especially so on ‘Mystery’, a belting blues rocker on which he successfully transfers his on stage energy into the studio.
They often tell you to save your best until last, though given the constant search for instant gratification, that’s not always the best policy for an artist still working within the album template. Nevertheless, ‘Guntown’ is both his best song and the perfect finish. Danny researched his subject matter and as a result successfully evokes a pre and post-war itinerant lifestyle over a clean toned, Knopfler style solo, with one of his best vocals on a very radio friendly cut.
The album title makes a direct connection with both Danny’s intense guitar playing and his heartfelt lyrics. He may have smoothed off the edges and embraced an expansive production, but he revels in new found melodies and dazzles with sumptuous tones to make a big sonic impact that demands a place at the highest blues-rock table. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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