Outta My Mind (EP)

Robert Hunter

Independent release, 2016

http://www.roberthuntermusic.net

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/28/2016

Let’s get my personal bias out of the way up front: there is nothing world-beatingly original about Robert Hunter’s new EP Outta My Mind; it’s just that I am a sucker for hooky, earnest, intelligent, somewhat-polished-but-not-overly-so singer-songwriter guitar rock (Matt Nathanson, Josh Kelley, early John Mayer… I’ve done time with each).

The number one point of comparison here, though, stems from the combination of the late-’90s radio-friendly alt-rock production (“A little more echo on the vocals… keep everything else clean and well-defined and spacious… yeah, that’s it”)  with a voice that could pass for Rob Thomas’ younger brother. Once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it: this feels and sounds remarkably like alternate-universe early Matchbox 20.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The opening title track is an urgent mid-tempo number about post-breakup regret and longing, wrapped around a solid chorus hook. “And I find it strange, that separated / I love what I traded in,” he says. Next up, “Wasted And Sober” seems to rewind the tape to the genesis of the breakup; “She said ‘Boy, you better straighten up’” while he counters: “Everything changes / I don’t want to change.”

“365” pairs acoustic rhythm guitar with lilting electric leads and a driving rhythm section, its propulsiveness reminding a bit of John Hiatt’s “Child Of The Wild Blue Yonder” as Hunter sings about “all those dreams that you’ve been chasing.” As it should be on a five-song EP, track four is a ballad (“Carbon”), a gentle acoustic story-song about a woman who goes out in search of herself and ends up turning back toward home. “On That Road” close things out solidly, a fresh entry in the long line of driving-and-listening-to-music songs whose narrator is haunted by a memory.

Does this brief set feel a bit formulaic at times? Sure. But the thing about formulas is, when they work like they’re supposed to, the results are reliably tasty. Outta My Mind showcases Robert Hunter’s gift for combining smart lyrics with smart hooks, delivering earnest and reliably well-crafted tunes that hark back to the golden age of radio-friendly alt-rock.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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