Danny Bryant – ‘Hurricane’ Album Review

danny bryant

Blessed with the voice of Joey Tempest, rough-hewn and yet deeply melodic, and the guitar skills of John Norum, Danny Bryant is a virtuoso musician with a heart of fire and a soul shot through with a blues-inspired darkness who sounds like he should have originated from America’s deep south, rather than Hertfordshire. Having already unleashed six albums, not to mention two live discs, as well as having shared stage space with the likes of the irrepressible Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana and Joe Cocker, Danny is a seasoned pro whose work burns brightly in the long line of excellent British-born blues guitarists whose work is known the world over.

Album number seven, the aptly-titled ‘Hurricane’, sees Danny unleash nine tracks of solid, no-nonsense blues rock (with the occasional heart-rending ballad thrown in for good measure) alongside his father, Ken Bryant (on bass), and long-time drummer Trevor Barr. Opening cut ‘Prisoner of the blues’ should tell you everything you’ll need to know about this excellent album. As Trevor nails a driving beat with Ken, Danny’s rich voice, shot through with just the right amount of grit, rings out clearly from the centre of the mix, defiantly riffing on a theme that has preoccupied bluesmen since the inception of the genre. It is the solos, however, that truly draw the attention. Warm, velveteen and exquisitely played, they say more than the lyrics ever could, as you imagine Danny’s fingers flickering over the fret-board. It is a fine start to the album and the pace hardly dips for second track ‘Greenwood 31’, which opens to the lonesome sound of a harmonica before pile-driving straight into the sort of hard-rock-infused blues stomp that Joe Bonamassa nailed so perfectly on ‘dust bowl’. This is a deep, swampy blues, full of soul and attitude that pays tribute to one of the Blues’ most beloved artists, the sadly departed Hubert Sumlin, and as Danny howls “goodbye Mr Sumlin, you were born to play the blues” it is both cathartic and inspiring to hear such a fine tribute to a man missed by so many.

The album changes tack for a ballad that is only loosely tethered to the blues and which recalls the perfectly rendered soft rock of recent Europe albums – melodic, memorable and given tremendous life by a solo that brings tears to the eyes – ‘can’t go on’ is an old-fashioned tear-jerker that is delivered with great panache. The title track is mid-tempo rock with a chugging, palm-muted riff that sits oddly between Foreigner and Soul Asylum in terms of straight-up AOR delivery, although the guitar playing would easily blow either out of the water, and then we’re back into surging blues-rock territory for the powerful stomp of ‘Devil’s got a hold on me’ which sees Danny and his band up the ante as Danny cries out the refrain “I can’t help it, I can’t help it. I just want more, it ain’t hard to see, the devil’s got a hold on me” before running out a blistering solo that burns with the very heat of hell, Danny’s fingers rippling over the red hot strings with consummate ease and a rare grace that marks him out as a fine musician indeed. ‘I’m broken’ draws from the same well of inspiration that made Gary Moore’s ‘Midnight Blues’ such a heart-rending experience, and his voice, prematurely aged, is a vital part of the song’s emotive appeal, while the guitar playing is simply exceptional throughout, Danny playing with heart and soul, making his guitar sing in the darkness.

The final third of the album sees Danny hit a golden streak of mid-tempo AOR, the keyboard strokes of ‘all or nothing’ and it’s sedate pace seemingly at odds with the song’s title, the music recalling the tempered, melodic work of Pink Floyd on ‘Momentary Lapse of reason’, and the solos up there with the elegiac work of Gilmour. ‘Losing you’ is a similarly slow-paced number, recalling (oddly) the mournful beauty of the music crafted for Twin Peaks. The album closes with the haunting ‘Painkiller’, a painfully open account of infidelity that is heart-breaking in its simple recounting of an experience that many have been through with a clarity that few could match. It is a beautiful and elegant finale to the album, and the closing solo once again reasserts (as if this was necessary) Danny’s phenomenal skills on the guitar.

For those looking for a powerful modern blues album, ‘Hurricane’ has it all. Danny sings and plays from the heart, his lyrics as honest as his blistering solos are heartfelt. Intelligent, varied and exquisitely played there are touches of AOR, driving blues rock and traditional blues all wrapped up into one cohesive record that never fails to impress. The production is second to none, rendering both Danny’s vibrant solos and the rhythm section’s essential undercurrent with perfect clarity and the song-writing is often poetic enough to break your heart. There is no doubt at all that Danny Bryant is a most important figure in the British blues scene, and this album provides a perfect summation of his remarkable talents.

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