Review by Andy Houghton for MPM
Robert Jon & The Wreck have been writing songs and releasing albums since the band’s formation in 2011, and have received numerous accolades and rave reviews from nominations of “Best Rock” and “Best Blues” and winning the title of “Best Live Band” at the Orange County Music Awards in 2013, to being hailed as “keeping the history of classic 60’s and 70’s rock alive for newer generations” by blues guitar legend Joe Bonamassa.
If you want to know why they’ve garnered such high praise, just take a listen to their latest album, ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’, which is due for release on September 3rd. It’s a thrilling slice of Southern blues rock that outshines even their well-received 2020 album, ‘Last Light On The Highway’.
‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ opens with its title track, which was released as a single back in June and was rightly described it as an “instant classic” by Metal Planet Music’s very own Paul Monkhouse. Blending rock and roll with the gospel roots that the band grew up on, the track deals with the obstacles, hurdles, and hardships brought on by 2020, while crying out with a soulful hope of normalcy. It’s a storming opener, and sets a high bar for the rest of the album.
The post-pandemic theme continues into ‘Everyday’, which speaks to the desire to get together with friends, play music, have some beers, and just spend time with each other in person again. ‘Everyday’ is a looser jam track, with additional background vocals from Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins, and Prinnie Stevens, and features some soaring guitar licks courtesy of Henry James.
Next we have ‘Ain’t No Young Love Song’, an anthemic love song that seems tailor-made for radio airplay. ‘Chicago’ is also about love, but is more bittersweet (the city of Chicago is asked to “look after her when I’m gone”), and the depth of feeling is enhanced by the horn arrangement provided by 504 Horns from New Orleans, LA.
Despite its name, ‘Hurricane’ is the most subdued track on the album, and shows that this band can deliver nuance as well as storming Southern rock. It’s a beautifully tender acoustic ballad where the moving lyrics are perfectly matched by the minimalistic instrumentals.
The pace picks up again as we enter the second half of the album with ‘Desert Sun’, a song that’s about unrequited love. Written by Henry James, it’s soulful, uninhibited and honest. Where ‘Desert Sun’ is lyrically-driven, the following track ‘Movin’’ is guitar-driven, with one of the best riffs of the album delivering one of its standout tracks.
‘Anna Maria’ provides another standout, telling the story of a doomed relationship. It’s great lyrically, and has some engaging melodic touches that are heightened by the soaring vocals – it’s probably my favourite track of the album.
As the album nears its end we reach ‘Brother’, a moving story about supporting loved ones with mental health issues. It’s a powerful and poignant track, with a transcendent guitar solo. ‘Radio’ brings things to a close with a short, sharp barn-burner of a track that presents us with an allegory about dealing with the music industry.
With ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ Robert Jon & The Wreck have not only demonstrated their mastery of the Southern blues rock genre, but also delivered a cracker of an album that’s packed with great lyrics and skilful instrumentals. Highly recommended.
Robert Jon Burrison | Lead vocals, guitar
Andrew Espantman | Drums, backing vocals
Steve Maggiora | Keyboards, backing vocals
Henry James | Lead guitar, backing vocals
Warren Murrel | Bass, backing vocals
1.Shine A Light On Me Brother
3.Ain’t No Young Love Song
Shine A Light On Me Brother’ is released on September 3rd, 2021.
Shine a Light On Me Brother”, the first single from OC Rockers, Robert Jon & The Wreck, from their upcoming album, Shine a Light On Me Brother, which releases September 2021. Pre-Orders available at RobertJonAndTheWreck.com