Brickwall Jackson is Red Hot in Big Orange Guitar

Over the course of four albums, Brickwall Jackson have stayed true to their roots and their overall sound and their newest album is no exception. They take a few creative risks that pay off on tracks like “The Bricks,” and “Get off My Lawn,” but they never abandon their unambiguously Southern spirit. Hailing from Virginia, John Hudak carries almost an Appalachian dialect that pleasantly sets his voice apart from other artists in his neck of the woods and it shines through from the very beginning on the title track where he takes shots at his nay-sayers and victoriously proclaims over a bashful instrumental that they can suck on his big fat orange guitar, not-so-subtly using his guitar as a phallic symbol for his own amusement. The track takes a bit of a political direction at times and the message is about what you’d expect from a group whose namesake is a famous confederate general. That being said, the track is very energetic and fun and fits well as an opener for this album. They take the politics a little bit further a few tracks later on “Get off My Lawn,” and the message is exactly what you’d expect from a song with such a title, but they do make some sentient points in it about working class people not deserving the brunt of the vitriol from major protest movements. Along with the politics, he also ramps up the energy in this one with a sliding piano taking us into a fast-paced groove that’s sure to evoke the image of Elvis dancing on a black and white TV.

While it’s unlikely that you’d resonate with the lyrics of those two tracks if you don’t keep up with Fox News, it’s absolutely worth it to listen to the rest of the album for stories of life and love and the evolution of one’s personal relationships over time. The best example of this is the third track, “Porch Swings.” In it, he sings over a soft, yet very catchy acoustic riff that has a hypnotizing tremolo texture to it about fond memories of doing simple things with people he loves and expresses a desire to make more of those memories with those people. It’s not a sort of painful longing for the past but rather an open invitation for the people he doesn’t talk to as much to hang out and talk with him for a while. “When We’re Gone” takes a slightly different route and expresses a desire to reach an understanding with people he likely has painful memories with for the reason that they will never come to any sort of understanding when one of them is gone. And it would be a shame if all they went through ended so unceremoniously as for them to just cut one another off. It’s still a rather upbeat track that even features a rather tasteful pinch harmonic guitar solo so as not to let us forget that Hudak can sling the guitar.

“Son of Many Fathers” is easily one of the most joyfully reflective songs on the project and he fondly reminisces times he’s had with his mentors or moments of adversity that taught him lessons and helped in his musical development. Stories like getting kicked out of his first band for playing sloppily are looked back on with pride because he’s been able to see the bigger picture and allow those kinds of moments to motivate him. And of course he gives credit to men who took on a sort of fatherly relationship with him on his way to becoming the musician he is today. “May You Remain” is the last track on the album and is somewhat of an extension of its predecessor. In it, he’s matured into understanding the lessons and wisdom imparted on him by his mentors and now that he has children of his own, he wants to carry on the legacy of his own mentors in a capacity far beyond teaching them music but he expresses desire for his pupils to live a full live and do good by their soul and it’s an understated and beautiful ending to the album and it ties the album up in a nice little bow and leaves the listener with a clarity on what they just listened to.

All in all, this project is very much worth a listen. The political statements are there but they’re not alienating because you really can either take them or leave them. With them, you develop a clearer understanding of his life philosophy and how it carries into his personal relationships, but if you do chose to ignore the political messaging, you’re still left with captivating instrumentals, a lovely voice that could only come from Virginia, and thought-provoking lyrics that’ll leave you reflecting on your own life, likely with a sense of wholeness, and it would be quite a shame to miss out on that.

Reviewed by Bret O’zee