James Hunnicutt. . .the man whose voice echoes in the black like a creaking floorboard of any dusty ambiguous unlocked abandoned house. His haunting voice and cavernous echoing melodies are something rare in today's marketplace, not since the days of early pioneer folk acts have we seen someone with the polished yet uncut diamond like qualities of Hunnicutt.
His sombre approach to high times and low times in his life have broken through a levy of banked emotion and when listening you can't help but feel his emotions written in song permeating your soul. James uses the rhythmical cleansing approach of a storyteller to drive his message home to the listener, his patience and dedication to his craft are deeply evident and quantified by his vocal ability and range and technical guitar playing expertise. It would be very easy for musician of this caliber, who also wields the technical understanding he does to let their ego run away with them and forget the path that has built the house of their success - this is certainly not Hunnicutt.
Perhaps the largest unifying characteristic of his music is his "spirit". The spirit of James Hunnicutt is a remarkable blend of tolerance, patience, love, understanding, humility, grace, persistence and positivity. Watching Hunnicutt perform is a not merely and observation, it is a complex study of man who has walked many paths in life and is pouring his heart before you. His unapologetic humble sharing of his successes and failures are what I believe draw the listener to Hunnicutt; he is tangible and not without error, but with error there is resilience and learning.
James Hunnicutt is the embodiment of PMA - Positive Mental Attitude; 5 minutes with this man will move you to understand the value in positivity and the futile advances in anything but. Hunnicutt has endured his fair share of hardships and learning curves throughout his 40 years. If tattoo's were any indication of lessons learned, Hunnicutt is an encyclopedic wealth of life lessons and path's better not followed. Trying to determine which album to review is not an easy decision as with his music the listener is captivated to keep listening regardless of the lines between one album and the next. So often we see artists very timid to repeat what was successful on one album; too fearful for labeling them or generalizing their style. Hunnicutt embraces this knowledge and understanding with the realization of what built one great album may be used as a transitioning point of growth to build upon and deliver successive albums of the same caliber.
Instead of a pinpoint focus on one James Hunnicutt album, I have chosen his review to take shape in the form of himself, his performance ideals intertwined with a few gem quality songs to invite the listener deeper into the world of Hunnicutt. To know James Hunnicutt, is to know quite possibly the kindest most modest person with a unmistakeable rough exterior with the largest beating heart just below the surface. His music resonates this baritone of emotion with tremendous accuracy as well; from the seasoned veteran musings of "Risk the Fall" to "Forever An Open Door" and finally the epic summary "Don't Let Teardrops Fill Your Eyes". These three songs are the definitive epitome of what James Hunnicutt brings to each live performance and define his character in stone among his contemporaries.
"Risk the Fall" is the song that if any can silhouette Hunnicutt and expose nothing more than his musical prowess and technique combined with with steady handed PMA. From the opening line of "I don't care where you came from, don't care much where ya been; I don't give a damn about what they say. I'm rarely one to judge - try not to hold a grude; even if you rub me the wrong way". This song is a beautiful radiant mix of positivity and reaching out to your fellow man and risking the chance to fall whether literally or figuratively. This is seeing a vulnerable Hunnicutt in his true and most raw exposed form if ever there was
"Forever An Open Door" a solemn daunting song of night time solitude has the unmistaken Hunnicutt fixative power to hold you to your seat like hearing the voice of a long lost relative, or a friend who passed on much too early. Hunnicutt seems to speak as if beyond the grave, a calming vocal look back as the distance grows - waving a weathered hand to say "I'm alright - don't worry about me". Prematurely it seems the song has it's end just as the warming sensation reaches our heart and core; too often it seems this is the case in life. We always have a metaphorical open door to "walk through" to acknowledge our feelings for the other person - yet sometimes, it's just too difficult. We should be thankful for our shared time with James Hunnicutt as he is truly a very special messenger with a remarkable talent in song.
The last offering by Hunnicutt is perhaps his most epic and formative. "Don't Let Teardrops Fill Your Eyes" is a chronicle from his first record, the song is a particularly moving melody where Hunnicutt ascends to his greatest height of his loving nature. Listening to this song is sure to deliver a flurry of goosebumps to your skin - whether remembering a long gone friend or relative, an ex - girl / boyfriend or someone you can't reach out and touch. It's hard to understand what Hunnicutt had in mind when he penned this masterpiece, yet much the same as a guiding parents hand to a child's scraped knee - James lends forth a calming quieting "shhhh - I'm here", this is what Hunnicutt is and will always be to all who are fans and call him Son, Brother, Father. . .he is the understanding reasonable musical equivalent of a parent who will never leave our side.
Thank you James.