CD REVIEW: Hunter & The Dirty Jacks - Hunter & The Dirty Jacks (EP)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Hunter & The Dirty Jacks
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Classic Rock, Blues, Americana, Rock, Jam Band
Sounds Like: Counting Crows, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Keith Urban, The Doors, The Alman Brothers.
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Weakness: EP release, Short-Sided EP
Hunter and The Dirty Jacks comprise a virtual all-star cast of Los Angeles and Orange County-area musicians that have been playing locally and regionally for over ten years apiece. Fronted by lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Hunter Ackerman, and anchored by Jon Siembieda and Carmelo Bonaventura on guitar, Aaron Barnes on bass, Brian Lara on drums, and Moana Avvenenti on background vocals, the Dirty Jacks put forth an extremely high energy, emotionally compelling performance coupled with a rare combination of soulful originals and tasty covers. Their latest 3 song self-titled EP was released in 2014. Band consist of Hunter Ackerman (Vocals), Aaron Barnes (Bass), Jon Siembieda (Guitar) and Carmelo Bonaventura (Guitar) and Brian Lara (Drums).
The EP lifts off the ground nicely with Track 1, “Jubilee” a rock steady intro piece that serves up driving rock rhythm meshed against impassioned vocal feel from Ackerman featuring well placed Harmonica set against a grand slam chorus and melody. Track 2, “Smoking Gun” shifts gears a bit with a steady flowing rhythm, rocked out guitar painted against impressive musical flow making for an impressive follow-up statement. Track 3, “Salt Whiskey” serves up a smooth as silk song dishing out intoxicating an amazing Psychedelic Rock groove with an amazing feel, some well-placed vocal harmonies that flows and ebbs its way through to motional fruition. The CD makes a strong first impression, dashing out 3 very solid songs in a row. The musicianship involved is above the bar. I would classify this music as classic Psychedelic Rock, Blues, with brief touches of Americana and straight up Rock n’ Roll to Jam Band. Hunter & The Dirty Jacks remind me of Counting Crows, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Keith Urban and even Kenny Loggins. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with amazing R&B solo guitar, Acoustic and Rhythm Guitar, sporadic Harmonica, lush harmonies all built upon a ‘thick as a brick’ rhythm section. What I like the most about Ackerman and the gang is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of writing and rehearsal time no doubt. This is a very tight band! Kudos goes out to the amazing R&B solo guitar licks from Jon Siembieda and amazing “deep in the pocket” timekeeping from Lara. Now turning our attention over to Ackerman. As for his vocal abilities - he’s a great advent for a band like this. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with a timbre that is amazing. At times he reminds me of Jim Morrison (The Doors) behind the microphone. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks here and there many of us take for granted indicating to me a strong and very confident vocal ability. He commands an effective baritone, falsetto and vibrato. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board - world class songwriting. All production aspects check out. Within the sonic spectrum I enjoyed the solid low end punch and the crystal clear high end clarity. This latest effort from Hunter and The Dirty Jacks delivers 3 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment upholding the highest Blues/Rock standard. The music of Hunter and The Dirty Jacks has everything you would expect from a world class musical production – I only wish there were more songs to digest. I did listen to some of the other material available on their REVERBNATION page linked above and I encourage you to do the same. There' are some killer cover tunes on there from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gregg Allman.
It’s hard to find any serious weaknesses with this release. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases. The Full Length album is a more complete snapshot to judge an artist by at any give point in time. If this is an EP release (I'm assuming it is) it needs perhaps 2-3 sore songs on it to make it a fully loaded EP release. To go with the Jan Band format I would encourage more soloing overall from as many instruments as possible (Organ, Piano, Slide Guitar).
From start to finish, this latest self-titled 3 song EP from Hunter & The Dirty Jacks is an impressive collection of music. The songwriting is gold standard – full of consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Note for note, song for song, there isn’t really a weak piece in this entire catalog. The writing and playing abilities of these guys is on the money. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted, and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with good old-fashioned conventional Americana-Blues-Rock wisdom. At the end of the day these guys bring the mojo and quite a lot of Soul. Bring out the full length CD already.