Danny Bryant is living proof that the old ways are far from dead and gone. Aged 32, this bluesman has worked the club and bar circuit mercilessly, milking each meagre opportunity for all its worth. With his credibility earned on the road not bestowed in magazine pages, it’s tempting to assume that Bryant’s sound would be defined by the wily tricks of the road (rugged blues staples and awe inspiring solos), but this troubadour has never been afraid to embrace his own vulnerability.
Hurricane is a sheep in wolves’ clothing. Baring a tumultuous title and supporting a stern monochrome cover, Danny Bryant’s sixth studio album appears to be the very image of masculine distance. It’s a façade of course, one that Bryant manages to maintain for three tracks at the most, before letting his tormented soul seep out.
Album opener “Prisoner Of The Blues” is a coy feint; a muscular workout complete with chunky riffs, rasping vocals and satisfying bombast. The track marauds towards a darting solo - it’s a suitably immense and impersonal affair designed to overawe the listener. “Greenwood 31” is equally seismic. Shuddering like Morrello one moment, before soaring skyward the next, Bryant’s guitar is uncorked atop a bludgeoning and coarsely rewarding rhythm section. “Devils Got A Hold On Me” has the loose swing and raucous feel of bar-room boogie as Bryant cobbles together every conceivable rock ‘n’ blues cliché.
Having got that prototypical wildness out of his system early, the rest of Hurricane is free to explore the sorrow and misery that appears to consume Bryant. The gorgeously spacious “Can’t Hold On” recalls Axl Rose in his 80s Guns ‘N’ Roses heyday. The distance between the instrumentation and the slow dejection of the delivery provides a winsome contrast to the widescreen grandeur of the arrangement. The romantic gloss is pushed to one side on the Gary Moore-ish “I’m Broken”. Bryant’s timing is sublime, each note lingers that second too long bringing the narrator’s stagnant unavoidable depression to life.
It’s tempting to label Danny Bryant a natural balladeer, but the label doesn’t quite sit comfortably. His vocal is surprisingly sublime: he can make a stadium show off his despair or he can make each line feel miniscule and insular. With a guitar in his hand he is undeniably deft. He’s never short of a heart-breaking solo or a despairing spiral staircase sidebar, but his lyricism leaves a lot to be desired. Falling back on slim snapshots and tried tropes, Bryant’s guitar will drive you down into the depths of despond only for a frustrating line like: “It’s like you took a knife, and stabbed me *dramatic pause* in the dark” to take you entirely out of the moment.
At it’s worst Hurricane can feel impersonal and generic. “All or Nothing” offers an intriguing arrangement, it has a sense of sly impetus, but Danny pulls the rug out from underneath his audience with platitudinous lyricism. It’s a shame, as Bryant’s playing and vocal tone are incredibly engaging. Reassuringly, the best is saved till last as Bryant’s potential is unleashed and all his stumbling blocks are overcome on “Painkiller”. Full of oddly specific imagery, it conveys the sense of intimacy and individuality that even Hurricane’s best moments lacked. “Painkiller” is a reminder that at 32 years of age the phenomenally talented Bryant is still evolving as an artist.
Buy If: You’re after a blend of muscular solos and considered heartache.
Skip If: You want incisive lyricism to rival dynamic playing.
Best Track: “Painkiller”
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