REVIEW: Wreckless Strangers — You Just Hurt (SINGLE)
The third single from Wreckless Strangers album When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide, “You Just Hurt”, isn’t bashful about its blues roots. The slide guitar kicking the song off has fiery intensity from the outset and the band ratchets the furor higher and higher with each passing second. You’re almost relieved when the song begins in full. It lightens the dramatic build and settles things into a more predictable trajectory, but the intensity never dies off. There’s no doubting veteran musicians guide this band when you hear how they shape and mold it into a lean and streamlined musical experience.
It’s impossible to not admire the song’s artistry. There isn’t a note out of place. None of the song sections drone on too long. The pace never lags, picks up, and lags again. It’s a thoroughly professional and polished effort on every level while still full of the authentic grit and guts we connect with the blues. They don’t try ballyhooing their status playing the blues but, instead, just get down to business and do a great job.
Guitar fans will flock to David Noble and Rob Anderson’s guitar playing. The slide, especially, comes roaring out of your speakers like it can cut steel and never rests for too long. It hits on a lot of the expected licks slide guitar fans love but, like Noble’s vocal, the playing discovers an individual turn of phrase that helps set it apart from others. The rhythm guitar shouldn’t be ignored as it’s one of the song’s indispensable components.
Amber Morris and others enhance Noble’s singing with the right amount of backing vocals. It’s obvious the intent is that Noble shoulders most of the song and, despite whatever limitations he has a singer, he does an excellent job. You can pin much of its excellence on his phrasing and the rapid-fire way he bears down on several lines rate among the song’s highlights. There’s a lot of blues in his voice but his singing should have wider appeal as well.
It’s a full band performance. Drummer Mick Hellman and bass player Joshua Zucker clear a path through the silence for the other musicians and keyboardist Austin de Lone helps further fill out the sound. The crowning touch on the single comes from producer Colin Linden’s contributions and his long history of work with artists as varied as Alison Krauss, Keb’ Mo’, and Bob Dylan gives him plenty of tools to bring to the work at hand.
What a single, what a band. Catch them in action as soon as you can, if you can, and scoop up their past work. It’s extraordinary they find the time and creative energy for this album with everything going on in their individual careers and the world at large. We should be grateful. We need the redemptive power of music more than ever before, even if that redemption is only for minutes at a time and hearing Wreckless Strangers in flight should be redemption enough, for a time, for everyone.