Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola, Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead

Peter Margasak

By Peter Margasak

on 10.02.12 in Reviews

Bay Area seven-string guitarist Charlie Hunter reconnects with one of his best and longest-serving collaborators, drummer Scott Amendola, on this dark-yet-breezy collection of originals inspired by extensive touring across the U.S. Hunter, who nimbly uses his guitar’s extra string to trace out bass lines while playing chords or melodic lines with the remaining six, doesn’t have the rosiest view of the country, as the album title makes plain. The gritty urban blues that emerges several minutes into “There Used to Be a Nightclub There,” and the hollowed-out, spooky atmospherics of “Ghost Mall” leave no doubt that he sees signs of decline in America, and his instrumental tone reinforces the message in those titles.

A dark-yet-breezy collection of originals

Yet this duo effort is no drag on the ears, with Hunter employing the classic coping mechanism of laughing just to keep from crying. For every piece like “The Wizard Pounds the Pavement,” where noir-ish plucks float over a trudging groove, there’s the title track, which collides New Orleans second-line rhythms with the pop-celebratory fervor of the Pointers Sisters smash “Yes We Can.” Amendola, who played with Hunter in T.J. Kirk back in the early ’90s, is the perfect partner for the guitarist, complementing his chilled funk with fat propulsion and deft melodic accents and counterpoint that never leave the listener noticing that only two folks are making the noise.