Robert J Hunter Before the Dawn

Not so long ago I introduced you all to the musical talents of Robert J Hunter (see post Introducing Robert J Hunter). During my review I talked about his outstanding debut album ‘Songs for the Weary’ which has become a huge personal favourite of mine. Well, Robert is back with his band (Greg Sheffield and James Le Huray) to deliver his new album ‘Before the Dawn’ which I will talk more about later in the review.

As always, I like to get the musicians who are featured involved with my reviews and I’m glad that Robert was kind enough to talk about the new album with me. He talked about the process of recording the new album including highs and lows. This is what he had to say.

What were your goals when working on ‘Before the Dawn’ album?

When I released my first album in February I had already started creating a whole new body of work without consciously knowing I was writing my second album. I had no pre-conceived idea of releasing a second album in the same year but I like that it has worked out that way. It seems these days bands are leaving longer and longer between albums, once I had the songs I didn’t want it to be that way. I mainly for myself because it’s what I love to do, it’s what I need to do to stay sane but I also write for my listeners, i don’t see the point in holding back on making a record for the sake of letting the ‘appropriate’ amount of time pass. So at the time I didn’t really have any particular goals other than to keep making music I enjoy.

During the process of putting this album together, what were the highs and lows?

With everything I write there are highs and lows, there’s always an element of self doubt and concern over whether I am doing the right thing musically and mentally, so that is always a hard barrier to get through, but I always feel a sense of accomplishment and pride on the other side.

How did it feel when you heard the final version of the album?

I have been very involved with the whole process of the album, from writing and recording to mixing and mastering. I have been living with my producer and bass player, James Le Huray so I have been very lucky to see my baby grow if you will. This has also meant it has only really just sunk in that i have a new record to show people.. Saying that, every song on the album has been captured exactly how I wanted it and I cannot be more grateful to my band and mastering engineer, Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin for realising my ideas to their full potential.

What is your favourite song from this release and why?

There are ten tracks on this record and I love them all for different reasons, be it the concept of the song, the meaning of it, the performance, the recording etc.. If I had to pick one I suppose I would choose Three Shake Fold. The song itself is completely different from anything I have written before and it really has opened up new avenues for me when it comes to writing, I also simply just dig the groove the band have given it.

Now the album is released, what are your future goals for your music?

Gig, tour, write, have fun, rinse and repeat. Myself and the band are growing more and more each day, taking on more commitments musically, playing bigger shows and I just hope it continues. We are really starting to cook and we have to just ride the momentum until we can’t anymore. I’d love to have toured Europe by this time next year but we are taking each day as it comes.

When Robert first announced ‘Before the Dawn’ I was both excited for new music but also a little nervous as I had high expectations after hearing such a strong debut album. Well, I need not have been nervous as he has raised his game. A true sign of a musicians talent is how they always push themselves to evolve their sound and for me, this is what Robert has done with his new album. There was something different about this release which I couldn’t put my finger on but after speaking to Robert I can see that it was due to the fact that he had a lot more influence in how the album was produced. As a result it feels to me that this album has a broader sound which I like, but still manages to give each song a trademark depth that I have come to expect from his music.

Even though the overall sound of the album has improved thanks to Robert being at its helm, this release still has that wonderful dirty gritty blues with a soulful feel that I absolutely love to hear. One of my highlights from the album ‘Rumour Mill’ is a superb example of this. The song sounds so good as the band blend together to deliver it’s amazing energy which I imagine must go down a storm during their live shows. Vocally, Robert always sounds good as it was his tone that originally grabbed my attention. It has this wonderful blend of blues grit like Howlin’ Wolf meets a tender old school soul like Otis Redding. Check out ‘Breakdown’ which is a highlight thanks to his vocal gift.

Choosing my favourite song from the album was so easy as ‘Preacher’ stood out on the first listen and it still captivates me with every listen since then. Actually, this is my favourite song from Robert J Hunter as I don’t think I have heard him sing with as much emotion and soul, it gives the song that special something. He has always said that if he is not 100% emotionally involved in his music then its not for him, well this song feels like he’s giving more than that. I am a fan of any musician who sings this way as this is a quality that cannot be taught and a sign of true talent. Just listen to ‘Preacher’ and let the song do the talking.

‘Before the Dawn’ is a must hear album and easily makes my top 5 EP’s/albums I have featured on my site this year! This is big praise from me but when you listen to the album you will understand why. Head over to the Bandcamp page of Robert J Hunter (click HERE) where you can not only listen to the album in full but you can also purchase it as MP3 or on CD. Go and give it a listen today!

I am going to make it my mission to hear the music by Robert J Hunter performed live and I expect his music will sound even better! If you want to find out about his future shows and releases then you can head over to his website at RobertJHunter.co,uk. You can also check out his social media sites at Facebook and Twitter where you can say hello to the man himself.

As a fan of the music created by Robert J Hunter I will be continuing to support his music. I am a strong believer that you should support the music that matters to you. I will continue to purchase his music, hopefully get to his shows and spreading the word about his music! If the music by Robert J Hunter ticks all the right boxes for you then help support his music today!