Honest stories require the voice of honest storytellers. Jonny Burke is one of those voices. With his first full-length release, Distance and Fortune, this Texas-native delivers a 10-song collection of great American stories, served up on a plate of deep-fried Southern roots rock with flavors that range from the gritty to the sweet.
The impressive result of a two week jaunt out West to Long Beach, California, in Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford’s studio, Burke traveled some distance from his New Braunfels, Texas home to record Distance and Fortune.
But Burke is no stranger to distance. Following the release of his 2009 EP, The Long Haul, Burke has spent the past two years playing his stories in every state. It’s safe to say that with every show his unique voice grewstronger. While Burke’s earlier work is often compared to Tom Petty, don’t expect to hear a Heartbreakers-inspired album with Distance and Fortune. Burke’s naked, honest approach is familiar, yet hardly derivative. Some of that familiarity comes from producer Ford lending guitar tracks, and the rest from the sonic canvas that holds the songs themselves. That’s where the true fortune lies on Distance and Fortune.
A straight-forward exploration of the economic, societal, and personal struggles of being an American in today’s America throughout, Distance and Fortune is anything but subtle. Burke hits you square in the face with Chuck Berry-riffs on lead track “Broke Again” and again on “Cracka Jack,” preaching the gospel of disposable nature of our life styles these days and the carefree agenda of youth. The Jagger/Richards-esque “Come Stand” packs a strut sure to make even the Robinson brothers wish their pen was on this one. Other notable rockers include the breezy, “You Wear it Well,” with its Drive By Truckers vibe and David Pirner style story lyrics and “Human Music,” a cover of decidedly very un-Texan-like Soft Boys classic. Despite its apt ability to get your blood pumping, Distance and Fortune’s softer side is even more intriguing. In some of Burke’s most vulnerably revealed moments, “Long Steady Decline,” Don’t Let Me Fall,” and “Little Girl of the World” showcase Jonny’s ever expansive aural landscape with nods to Paul Simon, Steve Earl, and Springsteen.
Jonny Burke’s Distance and Fortune is simple, honest, a must for singer-wringer-writer fans.