Robert Jon and the Wreck Shine a Light on Me Brother

Robert Jon and the Wreck Shine a Light on Me Brother

Robert Jon and the Wreck Shine a Light on Me Brother a great listen on an album of blues, the 60s and 70s rock all fired up with southern whiskey shot through its veins.

With a list of powerful releases under their belt since their inception in 2011, Robert Jon and the Wreck need no introduction; their fiery southern flavoured updated 60s and 70s rock has graced many a turntable, many a stage and many radio stations over their ten years. Now we have the latest opus to look forward to: Shine A Light On Me Brother is a ten-track scorcher of a standard we have come to expect and, despite the horrendous times we’ve all endured during the pandemic, musicians more than many, the band has delivered and there’re due in the UK for a spread of dates in some great smallish venues too.

Opening with the title track, Shine A Light On Me Brother, the weighty, gospel-based blues about the difficulties experienced during 2020, is backed up by the first-class team from Australia – Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins, and Prinnie Stevens…vocal backing extraordinaire. A very glossy, commercial sounding song that is immediate but almost a little too radio-friendly.

The next track, Everyday, however, is the RJTW at their best with a sort of live in the studio jam about beer, friends and music…what more can you ask for and, with the Four Eks (stolen Pratchettism) ladies backing again, it is an absolute joy. The guitar tones and solo, the piano and the sing-a-longness is irresistible: a soul, blues, rock party! Ain’t No Young Love Song is another commercial song but, this time, it has a bounce and complexity that is satisfying…imagine Springsteen if he was as capable as his legion of fans say he is…sorry, controversial I know but, to quote Ritchie Blackmore; “I don’t get him”.

Chicago has horns, passion, and heartache for a lost love, set against clever melodies, especially from the bass and lead guitar. A Chicago blues structure is there too if you listen carefully…clever. Hurricane follows with acoustic balladic wizardry: great guitar and some neat percussion. This is the lighter waving ballad that many attempt and few succeed: RJTW succeed, brilliantly. It has a countrified, bluesy feeling that with the keyboard accompaniment and the subtle slide that cries with the lyrics will draw you in. Desert Sun is multi-layered with acoustic, piano and neat percussion and very catchy: it has a Southern tinge as well as (possibly) gospel roots and a more subtle slide that speaks as loudly as the lyrics.

Movin’ brings a background of psychedelia to bear as the electric riff and acoustic strum evoke latter-day Beatles at their best…this needs a few listens to fully appreciate its complexity and clever build. Anna Maria is a bouncy acoustic, to begin with, but builds with a great bass line and percussion into a piano-driven song and every layer reveals a story behind the lyrical tale of a doomed relationship. The audience for the upcoming tour should prepare to join in with this anthem.

Brother has an important message in amongst the brilliant guitar phrasing: RJ sums it up; “…a story of experiences dealing with loved ones exhibiting mental health problems. We all know someone that may be struggling with mental illness. We wanted to shine a light on this topic in an honest yet positive way. This is the true story of someone very close to the band that has been living with this for some time.” The piano, organ and acoustic intro allows the song to develop and then crescendo in the best solo on the album.

The final track, Radio, is about the battle musicians always seem to have to gain fairness and recognition from within the music industry, rather than as RJ says, “[them] swooping in, sucking them in and spitting them out until they’ve had enough, and are relinquished to try and get away from it all.” It has a great rhythm that successfully combines country, blues and rock and roll in a song that is great fun despite the serious backstory: the piano, guitar interplay is suitably light and raucous and it’s a neat way to finish.

Another quality outing from this quality band…it nearly, but not quite, shades Last Light On The Highway for all-around goodness but, if I had to choose, their 2020 album wins by a small margin. But if you like any of their past releases, you’ll love this one and if you’ve not heard them before, this is a great starting point.

Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a great listen on an album of blues, the 60s and 70s rock all fired up with southern whiskey shot through its veins.

Track Listing:
Shine A Light On Me Brother
Ain’t No Young Love Song
Desert Sun
Anna Maria

Robert Jon Burrison: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Andrew Espantman: Drums, Background Vocals
Steve Maggiora: Keyboards, Background Vocals
Henry James: Lead Guitar, Background Vocals
Warren Murrel: Bass, Background Vocals
Chicago by 504 Horns, New Orleans: Horn Arrangement for Shine A Light On Me Brother
Jason Parfait: Saxophone / Ian Smith: Trumpet
Mahalia Barnes, Prinnie Stevens, & Juanita Tippins Vocals
Andrew Espantman & Jeff Frickman Additional Percussion

Produced by Robert Jon & The Wreck Co-Produced by Jeff Frickman

Shine a Light on Me Brother will be available from September 3rd but can be pre-ordered on CD, Vinyl, limited Deluxe Vinyl (coloured) and in limited edition bundles – including a deluxe bundle including the Signed Deluxe Edition Vinyl, Ltd Edition T-shirt, signed CD, Ltd Edition retro California vanity plates, and signed Ltd Edition photos of Robert Jon & The Wreck.

They’re on tour (hurrah!) with Troy Redfern as Special Guest in the UK in September: tickets from the venues or usual outlets.

Cardiff, The Globe Thursday 16 September 2021
125 Albany Road, Cardiff, CF24 3NS
Sittingbourne, The Bourne Music Club Friday 17 September 2021
Chester, Live Rooms Saturday 18 September 2021
Leeds, Brudenell Social Club Sunday 19 September 2021
Newcastle, The Cluny Monday 20 September 2021
Manchester, Night & Day Tuesday 21 September 2021
Nottingham, The Bodega Wednesday 22 September 2021
London, The 100 Club Thursday 23 September 2021
Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms Friday 24 September 2021
Aberdeen, Cafe Drummond Saturday 25 September 2021
Hartlepool, South Durham Steel Works Club Sunday 26 September 2021

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