Album review: DANNY BRYANT – Revelation

DANNY BRYANT – Revelation

Jazzhaus Records [Release date 20.04.18]

For an album that Danny Bryant tells us features songs that: “confront memories and emotions I didn’t really want to face”, and material with: “dark subject matter”, it might have made sense to include a full lyric sheet to help us share his emotions.

As it is, he extends the dark lyrical themes into the CD’s black and white noirish art work, though quite what the two inner pages of sky scrapers represent is not readily apparent.

As it is, Bryant’s songs usually have a slow build leading to a big hook and a musical and lyrical resolution that leaves us in no doubt as to his feelings.

The album might also have been called ‘Salvation’, rather than ‘Revelation’. The thematic title refers to the cyclical nature of historic mistakes, while the album is glued together by the more encompassing personal theme of finding salvation through music.

In that respect, ‘Revelation’ digs deep for lyrical meaning and a consistent emotional connection. Producer and keyboard player Richard Hammerton is a significant catalyst who doubles on keyboards to smooth out the edges, emphasize the melodies, big up the solos and direct the flow.

Surprisingly, his big musical vision doesn’t always leave enough sonic space for the big band horns. On the rocking ‘Truth Or Dare’ their purpose might only be as accompanists to fatten out the sound, but some punchier horn stabs could surely have created a sharper dynamic.

On the riff driven single  ‘Sister Decline’, they sound almost muted, though they do provide the perfect foil for Bryant’s tension breaking solo on ‘Liars Testament’.

Hammerton also contributes  3 co-writes of which ‘Shouting At The Moon’ is the highlight. The soulful big production number is a moving ode to Danny’s late bass playing dad and effectively anchors the album in a sea of emotional turmoil.

His use of falsetto works perfectly on a track that balances his musical heft with real feel. It’s surely destined to be a live favourite and a defining career anthem.

‘Revelation’ takes us on a coherent emotional journey of mid-tempo blues related material full of contrasting guitar tones that are explored in duo to nonet formats.

The opening title track gallops along into a big chorus, via an unexpected mariachi trumpet line, before a synth string drop-down and a wah-wah led guitar finish.

‘Isolate’ is a superb guitar-led rock ballad that features double line vocal and guitar and separate double tracked vocals, as both his guitar squalls and Richard Hammerton’s drifting piano fills rise over Dave Raeburn’s big drum pattern.

And if Danny has a penchant for rock balladry, he also not averse to filling the role of an interpretive singer, as on the acoustic duo with Hammerton on John Mellencamp’s ‘Someday The Rains Will Fall’.

His second cover on the album finds him covering Stevie Ray Vaughan’s arrangement of Howlin’ Wolf’ s ‘May I Have A Talk With You’. He forges his own big tone style on a well paced piece with cool dynamics. And somewhere deep in the mix is a big horn section struggling to be heard. Bryant builds the tension, but then opts for a slow fade rather than a climatic finish more in keeping with the lyrical meaning.

Perhaps he had one eye on the closing ‘Yours For A Song’, which moves from rock balladry to a frenetic Skynyd style finale. Either way the track provides him with the kind of big finish that he eschews elsewhere on this album.

‘Revelation’ stirs the deep waters of Danny Bryant’s soul. If his previous ‘Hurricane’, ‘Temperature Rising’ and ‘Blood Money’ CD’s felt like a defining triumvirate of his abilities, then ‘Revelation’ conjoins emotional honesty with musical diversity to suggest there’s plenty more good stuff to come.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

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