“Jack come back/bring back with you the America even outsiders loved/ the America of open highways/the America of boundless forests/the America of sunsets by the river-pier/ an America generous of spirit.” – Jack Kerouac, ‘Gentleness’ The American rock n’ roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s ran on raw, unfiltered emotion, and was driven by ardent soul. The muscle cars, steel mechanics, and never ending highways were the image, but the spirit was inherit in the far reaching melodies and layered vocals — the ideal at the heart of American Thunder, Harrison Hudson’s third full-length album. Behind the languishing spacious guitars and the overall smooth vibe there is Hudson himself, sharing the best moments of the American rock radio that lavished his childhood.
Formed in 2005 in Atlanta, GA Harrison Hudson began as a songwriter backed by a band. In 2006 his debut Angel On One Side…And the Other On The Other displayed a dark shade, a monument of Hudson’s life at the time, but by 2008 Harrison Hudson had become a full band, a trio that found a new home in Nashville, TN releasing the no-frills, full volume, Blood, Sweat, and Sweat. As soon as recording was finished Hudson began writing again, 70 songs that would be sliced down to an integral 12 of pop hooks and rock twist free of overbearing romantic gestures, the shape of American Thunder.
In one aspect American Thunder can construed as one love story, one that goes bad as the girl just must leave, but that’s a stretch as even the hyperbole romantic gestures of the more light-hearted songs (Bookstore Girl, Indie Rock N Roll Queen) can’t take the sarcastic cynical voice that lies in the punch line of other tracks (Stay, Fire and Fizzle Part Two). This voice is the grounding point of the album, the reality of relationships brought to the front.
“It’s the kind of thing where you see a beautiful girl and she’s definitely the answer,” Hudson describes the voice. “When she turns out to be just another human being like you, you resent her for it because she’s is not perfect like you expected–and no one is.”
To keep the spirit of the gritty early days of Rock N’ Roll without ending up with a throwback record the band entered a modern studio with Kevin Dailey and Micah Tawlks behind the boards. To jump into an old rock studio of AM radio glory in Nashville would have been easy, but the end album would have been a plastic design. The old idea lost in a chase to recreate.
American Thunder accomplishes the goal. The spirit of the old days of Rock N’ Roll radio have been captured and embraced, not re-manufactured.