Handsome Jack

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

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Usually when a band goes from a quartet to a trio, that means their sound has thinned out just a bit. That's hardly the case with 2018's Everything's Gonna Be Alright, the second album for Alive Naturalsound Records from blues-rock combo Handsome Jack. With the departure of guitarist Phil Allport, lead singer and guitarist Jamison Passuite is now handling all the six-string chores for the group, accompanied by drummer Bennie Hayes (replacing previous timekeeper Chad Salmeri) and bassist Joe Verdonselli. However, while Handsome Jack's 2014 effort Do What Comes Naturally sounded loose but potent, with a clean and naturalistic vibe, Everything's Gonna Be Alright seems a bit more tricked up. These sessions find Passuite pushing the bluesy honk of his vocals a lot harder and the rhythm section adds a funkier undercurrent to the rhythms, and if the guitar work is more spartan, it's more decisive and pushed up higher in the mix. Producer Ben McLeod also gets a tougher and harder-edged tone from the band than they conjured on their previous releases, and while Do What Comes Naturally recalled '70s boogie rock, Everything's Gonna Be Alright is more clearly rooted in vintage R&B and uptown blues, from the flintier strut of the backbeat to the horn section that pops up on several cuts. In some respects, Everything's Gonna Be Alright suffers from the absence of the good groove that made Handsome Jack's previous LP a low-key pleasure, but there's a taut energy here that the earlier album didn't have, and if you like your blues-rock with no shortage of attitude, this may be just what you've been looking for.

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