Buffalo’s Handsome Jack are a lesser-known band that are gradually gaining notoriety for their ’70s power-charged blues-rock that’s chock full of soul. The band represents the gritty southern rock aesthetic, with forefathers such as the Black Crowes and a smattering of Muscle Shoals mainstays coming through as clear influences on the band’s second full-length album, Supermoon. The record consists of 11 loud, rambunctious tracks of sweaty venue blues. Charged and snarling, the Jacks hold nothing back, hinting that their live game is likely twice as powerful. A cleverly-wielded rock organ and whining guitar runs are at the center of Handsome Jack’s heft, grounded by throbbing drums and better-than-average whiskey-drenched-lead-singer vocals.
Supermoon opens with “Take Me Back Home”, a slow, howling guitar ushering in a powerful ballad, with vocalist Jamison Passuite’s soulful howl mirrored by glowing organ chords and hooky guitar lines. “Faking It” is the catchy standout, a song nearly impossible not to move to. From this point on, the pealing, steady roots rock chugs along beautifully (“Turn to Dust”, “Strangers”) and packs some serious power (“Freelance Fiend”). The album’s endnote, “Roll On”, practically begs for a cliché lighter salute.
Because of the Jack’s obvious strengths, Supermoon devotes much of its play time to peeling guitar and organ jams, but by about the album’s halfway mark, it starts to sound a little monotonous. These tricks probably translate exceptionally well live, but restrained to small speakers and studio mixing, Supermoon comes across as flat and predictable. Perhaps this confinement is the only element of Supermoon that leaves something to be desired. Handsome Jack is worth a listen for rootsy southern blues-rock fans, but break out the subwoofer for this one.
Essential Tracks: “Marry Louise”, “Strangers”, and “Faking It”