Dave Hunt – Behind the Moon
Mad Ears Productions – 2021
14 tracks; 54:23
Dave Hunt’s Behind the Moon recalls a time when rock, blues, and mainstream radio were all synonymous. His album isn’t classic rock, but leans on classic sounds and riffs, all through Hunt’s personal lens of solid vocals and tasteful guitar playing.
Hunt comes out of the European blues scene, with Behind the Moon his fourth solo album. Here Hunt sings and plays guitar and harmonica, as well as some occasional bass and drums. His vocals are often more of a rhythmic talking that reinforce the groove, perhaps factoring into what makes him such a capable drummer. His songs reside comfortably within the blues rock genre, but with some interesting surprises that catch your ear.
For instance, “Take Me to the Sun” is a Delta-inspired blues riff over a delightfully slow—almost reluctant—groove, Hunt’s harmonica howling behind it, like tumbleweeds across a desert. It’s pure blues, but the melody is reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Funky Monks,” which, as the source material name implies, gives the tune an unexpected funky sway, and that also makes it feel modern (forgetting for a moment the Chili Peppers song is 30 years old, a long time for pop music, but mere relative seconds for the blues).
“Swamp Snake Moan,” a North Mississippi Hill country blues, also showcases Hunt’s ability to merge history into the present. For this track, it involves electronic drums. ZZ Top famously (or infamously, depending upon your perspective) used that sound to make the blues into dance music. Hunt uses electronic drums to give the track a mechanical trundle. However, his swirling harmonica and wild slide textures inject the tune with a human warmth. It’s a smart combination of elements that makes for a fun song.
One of the album’s most interesting moments is “Don’t Leave This Way,” a trippy track with shimmery guitars and harmonica that bobs in and out of the song, almost like buoy on choppy water. The track doesn’t use a full-blown drum set, which makes the song feel like it might drift out of the groove at any moment. Hunt and his co-producer Andy Littlewood chip in straight-ahead blues guitar, which sounds wonderfully incongruous against the song’s more atypical elements. It’s a neat track, but one that might have been lifted to next-level psychedelic with the addition of electric sitar.
Hunt and Littlewood are strong songwriters and musicians, which is always a good recipe for an enjoyable album. The most impressive thing about Behind the Moon is Hunt’s ability to gently twist songs so that they don’t feel like tunes you’ve heard many times before. He’s not reinventing anything but rather leaving a gentle mark that lets the listener know they’re hearing something new.
If the music world ever resets to the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, when blues rock ruled, Hunt might have a shot at the throne.