Like many others, the pandemic hit hard for The Robert J Hunter Band. They were busy working on their album Nothing But Rust when the world went chaotic. As a result, they were unable to finish their record. However, thanks to their fans, they got their collection of songs across the finish line after a successful crowdfunding project.
With all the work finished, they are ready to release Nothing But Rust into the world. With it, he promises to deliver more of his captivating blend of blues and americana. A sound influenced by heroes such as Rory Gallagher, Free, The Black Crowes, The Band, and The Eagles.
As the album begins, long time fans will be familiar with what welcomes their ears. Remastered versions of “Suitcase Blues” and “Good People” get things started. Each offer something different but both highlight the high quality of music that Hunter has to offer. “Suitcase Blues” opens up with a foot-stomping groove before the story begins with his growly vocals. Its blues-rock energy is infectious and grows further when the chorus arrives. He makes it easy to sing along to “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for / There’s only one thing on my mind / I’m all packed up and out the door to go and find”. In its latter stages, the guitars and drums during the instrumental are a delight on the ears.
“Good People” offers a slower tone with more of an americana feel. The change of pace lets the listener focus on the storytelling qualities that are on show. Like the opening track, he delivers another infectious hook. Created before the pandemic, his lines “Where did all the good people go? / They’re all stuck at home / Complaining about the problems in the real world” ring so true. It is difficult not to talk about “Good People” without mentioning the use of the harmonica. It adds so much and stands out as much as the storytelling.
The feel-good factor continues with “Little Bit of Your Love”. Its cool Americana groove sounds so good. You can’t help but join in with its hook, “All I need is a little bit of your love”. The upbeat mood continues with “Easy Street”. It offers more toe-tapping beats and sing-along moments. The tempo slows down with “The Losing Side” as Hunter delivers more emotion with his voice. He showcases a more soulful tone that is accompanied by superb backing vocals.
Next comes “Stir All Night”, which offers a sublime vocal performance by Hunter. Personally, it is his best performance since his outstanding track “Preacher”. It is at moments like this when he hits a different level. The emotion within his voice adds so much to his lyrics. A quality heard from the opening lines, “He was staying up late for longer than he ever needed / Drunk when the clock struck four in the afternoon”. Again, his storytelling qualities excel, not just with his voice but with his lyrics too.
The details he shares provoke so many images. A talent highlighted during, “He would go on down to the water’s edge / Try to dip his toes in the passing tide”. It is a song that offers so much but stands out further as it arrives towards its finale. Hunters delivery of “He grew weary he grew tired / Because he stayed awake all night / Waiting for something that may never come” is stunning.
Some things are worth the wait. One of those things is Robert J Hunter’s new album Nothing But Rust. It’s so good!
Hunter has a well-earned reputation for his outstanding guitar skills. So far, they have not stood out as much as from previous releases. However, “Kind Hearted Woman” changes that. It opens up the song before the keys begin to take centre stage to support his vocals. Midway through is when the mood changes. The listener gets to hear an impressive instrumental section in which his six-string is let loose. It delivers so much emotion as it sings away in its own style. It seems a shame to stop its flow as his voice comes back to end the track.
The tempo turns back up with the energetic “Freewheelin”. It offers more infectious energy and hooks. A song that overshadows the closing tracks “Rolling Thunder” and “Torn Down”. Not that they are poor, but it would be nicer to end things in a happier mood. When things come to a close, you have to admire but the quality of musicianship within Nothing But Rust. It might have taken longer than planned for Robert J Hunter to get his album out into the world. However, the wait was certainly worth it.