Hailing from the Detroit, Michigan area, Gordy Hunt’s songwriting benefits from an assortment of avowed influences. Jimmy Webb, Mick Jagger//Keith Richards, Todd Rundgren, and John Hiatt are among the artists informing Hunt’s songwriting but, despite those influences, Hunt’s songwriting boasts its own identity on each of the twelve cuts included on his full length release Mood Swings. His latest album release follows up its predecessor Seniority and plays like the work of a much younger man. Hunt and his band bring a palpable snap to each of the album’s dozen tracks and Hunt’s production, alongside co-producer Tom Rice, frames the material in the best possible light.
The opening track “Just Can’t Leave Her” opens with authoritative drums and colorful organ before the full band comes in. Hunt and his band make excellent use of horns during the song as well and the inclusion of brass gives the recording melodic strengths it might have otherwise lacked. It’s essentially a song about remaining devoted to a loved one through both good times and bad. Hunt’s light youthful voice carries the day. There is a smattering of backing vocals during the chorus, however, that make the song an even more satisfying listening experience. It’s a rousing opener.
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The theme of romance continues with the second song. It’s another up-tempo number entitled “Make Out Music” and, though guitar has a stronger presence here than the opener, the same vibrant rush of energy defining the first song spills over into this cut as well. There are some inventive rhymes in the song’s lyrics elevating it above the customary. He has a penchant for strong choruses that continues with this track as well. “Point of View” is mid-tempo and has a moodier demeanor than the preceding songs. Hunt brings brass back into play and it punctuates the song in an effective way. It’s a nice change of pace compared to the first two songs
“Wine Women and Song” opens with chugging acoustic guitar, but it isn’t wholly acoustic. There’s an audible blues influence working its way into Hunt’s songwriting with this performance and he has the required vocal chops to pull it off. It’s a relatively simple and straight forward tune with relatable sentiments and there’s a stringing guitar solo in the song’s second half adding a lot to the overall package. “Ransacked Hearts” has a slower, more deliberate feel and the downcast lyrical narrative ranks among the best included on Mood Swings. He distinguishes his songwriting once again with some sharp and inventive rhymes and the image intensive bent of his lyrics highlights Hunt’s storytelling prowess.
The album’s longest song, “Waste of Time”, clocks in near the eight and a half minute mark but it never feels like Hunt is overextending his talents with such a wide canvas. He once again makes effective use of backing vocals and the tastefulness of his approach to this facet of his songwriting sets him apart from many of his peers and contemporaries. The jazzy bounce of “Elephant in the Room” returns Hunt to more playful territory and rates as one of the album’s more enjoyable performances. He ends this fine album with the song “Stomping Grounds” and it starts appropriately enough with physical drumming before segueing into a brisk arrangement. It’s a reflective look back at youth and the choices made but it isn’t forlorn at all. It’s a fist pumping finale to one of the better albums 2020 has offered thus far.
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