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Hunkins; Johnny: Down In Flames

If Johnny Hunkins is Down In Flames, then the album he's created of the same name is sure as hell rising from ashes, for put simply if you're hankering for an eclectic, yet always blues based guitar rock album, then look no further, this is it. The guitar is undoubtedly the star here, however DIF isn't an instrumental affair, instead Johnny H also adds a gritty, soulful vocal to most of the twelve tracks on display; while a trio of guests vocalists also add their tones. Hunkins himself has a fine voice, rich and full, and while he does have a tendency to add a slightly grating vibrato to his delivery in an attempt to add aggression, it is the only slight flaw in this department. Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent) turns up for a romp through the upbeat roar of "Rings Of Saturn"; a song where the riff really hits an irresistible stride as Chris Duarte adds a classy guest solo. Jarrod Englund takes vocal duties for the commercial Clapton like (and Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder) bass enhanced) "Gonna Have A Party" and Sammy Hagar at his fiery best like "River Is Risin'". While Dirty Dave Osti more than howls with delight on "Rockin' In The USA", where he also jettisons a couple of searing solos from his axe. Hunkins isn't outdone though, his vocal on the considered album highlight "Dresden Burning" an absolute stunner, as is the Stevie Ray Vaughn like chug of opener "Down In Flames".

The whole album is a blues masterclass, whether low slung and easy in attitude, or bristling and in your face, Hunkins peeling off riff after soul enriching riff, reigning things in just long enough to ensure the next full on excursion hits hard and deep, while drummer Ryan Hoyle (Collective Soul/Paul Rodgers) does a bang up job of nailing all the grooves and moves to the floor. However while the spirallingly addictive "Little Black Dress" and aforementioned title cut show the energetic side of Down In Flames to amazing effect, it is Hunkins ability to combine that attack to the Beatles with balls of "You Give Love", upbeat shuffle of "Thank You Baby" and reminiscing "Summer Of '79" (no relation to Bryan Adams "...69"), which takes what could have been a simple solid blues rock workout and turns it into an album which draws you back again and again.

Down In Flames is another in the line of tremendous guitar led releases from the ever reliable Grooveyard Records, and as such comes highly recommended for those who love the blues, those who love to rock and those who love so much more.

Track Listing
1. Down In Flames
2. Rings Of Saturn
3. Gonna Have A Party
4. She's In Love
5. Summer Of '79
6. Little Black Dress
7. River Is Risin'
8. Rockin' In The USA
9. Thank You Baby
10. You Give Love
11. Dresden Burning
12. Omnia In Futurum

Added: November 3rd 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Down In Flames at the Grooveyard
Hits: 2289
Language: english

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