STEVE HUNTER – The Deacon Speaks

Steve Hunter 2024

The Deacon Speaks

Preachin’ blues from legendary adventurer behind omnipresent melodic licks.

From “Train Kept A Rollin'” to “Solsbury Hill” and beyond, Steve Hunter’s guitar always was at the beating heart of classic rock, but the veteran’s voice hasn’t been heard since his solo debut, 1977’s “Swept Away” – where The Deacon intoned a piece which didn’t make him too happy anyway – until now, when the 75-year-old master decided it was time he became more vocal about his art. Wise enough to never pretend he is a singer per se, Steve went for and outside of the talking blues idiom so suitable to this album of originals and borrowed tunes, creating instead a fresh ambience for each of the ten cuts on display, baring his spirit and sculpting his soundscapes in the most intimate way, something Hunter’s so great at.

Still, the elder statesman stance and gravely speaking patterns that let Steve seem somewhat insecure on the statement of “Independent Soul” – the ethereal, yet earthly, ballad written and worded by his wife Karen, the only person to perceive the entire depth of the master’s psyche – also ground the game on a creepy opener “Back Door Man” for Hunter’s parchment-dry pipes to contrast the seductive sonics of his six strings. The same unhurried defiance fuel the electric groove of cosmic instrumental “Annabel’s Blues” and the gospel-tinged “Tiresome Blues” which pulse with fatigue and desire at the same time, while the insistent momentum behind “The Ballad Of John Henry Gates” is propelled by the old musician’s harnessing folk tradition and fleshing out its countrified flow with acoustic strum. But if Steve’s understated, wah-wah-enhanced take on “Up From The Skies” feels hypnotic, as does his whispery, albeit rather robust, reading of “Sweet Jane” he used to play with Lou Reed, there’s immense warmth to Hunter’s growl and twang on “Waiting On A Friend” and his acting of jealous lover on “Who Is He And What Is He To You” – the warmth rendering these perennials in a new way.

All this has to happen before the veteran’s own “In A Lonely Place” offers a diaphanous finale which – especially once chamber orchestra emerge – should require no lyrics to make the listeners’ hearts beat like they did at the sound of all the classics The Deacon helped form. Seven years on after "Before The Lights Go Out" found Steve Hunter embrace the darkness, “The Deacon Speaks” sees his talent shine ever so brightly.


March 25, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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