It might not be a purist’s idea of Americana but it’s a rollicking good Southern Rock album.
If you like your music to hit you in the solar plexus with raunchy guitars, punchy horns, rollicking piano, sweet gospel oohs and ahhs from girl backing singers, stomping drums and a powerful charismatic lead singer then Robert Jon & The Wreck could be just the band for you and the title song on the band’s latest album, the Creedence Clearwater Revival influenced, ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ is the just track for you, for all that is packed into the first track on the album.
The band have been making music since 2011 and this is the latest in a long line of albums – they’ve even been around long enough to produce a live record. The band who has been together from the start, is made up of Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocals & rhythm guitar), Andrew Espantman (drums), Steve Maggiora (keyboards), Henry James (lead guitar) and Warren Murrel (bass).
The ten tracks on the album are all excellent and although they specialise in stomping anthemic songs like the aforementioned title track, ‘Ain’t No Love Song’ and ‘Chicago’ amongst others, there is the occasional ballad such as ‘Hurricane’ to give the listener a chance to get their breath back. The songs written during the pandemic by the band along with a little help from their friends Ian Cullen, Nick Foster and Josh Weathers are all first-rate in different ways. Produced by the band and Jeff Frickman, it was recorded in a number of places mainly at Sonic Groove Studios in Burbank CA, with Robert Jon’s vocals recorded in Costa Mesa CA, the Hammond B3 in Santa Ana CA with some background vocals recorded in Australia not forgetting the fabulous 504 Horns which were recorded in New Orleans. The overall sound of the album is superb clear, concise and sharp – the mixing being done by Mike Fossenkemper in New York!
The ten songs cover a number of subjects such as the troubles everyone has been through in the last year or so, relationships, unrequited love and mental health issues but as good as the lyrics are (and they are very good), it’s the overall sound of the album that shines through. Robert Jon’s voice is very powerful with echoes of John Fogerty, Joe Cocker and Stevie Winwood in there somewhere. James’ guitars sparkle be it via ringing solos, stealthy slide or just plain acoustic and he’s aided and abetted by some tremendous keyboard work from Maggiora who’s barrelhouse piano on the likes of ‘Everyday’ adds another texture to the sound of the album which also benefits from some of his subtle Hammond organ on ‘Chicago’, ‘Hurricane’and other tracks.
Robert Jon & The Wreck are the archetypal seventies bar-room band and their boundless energy exudes good times. As good as the album is (and it very good), the band must be tremendous live and their anthemic songs cry out to be stomped and hollered along to in a sweaty, vibrant venue like The Bodega in Nottingham or the evocatively named South Durham Steel Works Club in Hartlepool.
‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ can’t really be filed under Americana but if your tastes are broad and you like to hear some Southern Rock with a tinge of The Blues Brothers, a little taste of country and a portion of CCR swamp rock thrown in, then then this could be the album for you.