Robert Jon & The Wreck — Ride Into The Light (Journeyman Records)

What is roots rock?

If it’s rock that digs deep into the past without ever losing sight of the future, then it’s Robert Jon & The Wreck.

If it’s rock that’s warm, authentic, enlightening and empathetic, then it’s Ride Into The Light.

And if roots rock encompasses essential elements of Americana, country, blues and soul then this joyous record is the triumphant blueprint. 

Roots implies growth, harmony and a generational link to what’s gone before.

No surprise, then, that Robert Jon Burrison respectfully reimagines the great American songbook without ever settling for pale imitation. 

His music is original, organic and often omniscient: Ride Into The Light is the all-seeing eye of a singer songwriter with vision to burn.

But if you’re searching for that late summer soundtrack to the simple things in life then The Wreck has you covered.

At just 32 minutes this isn’t an album that requires intense attention.

And yet take the time to fully explore the eight songs here and you’ll discover myriad layers of shimmering melody and subtle messaging.

Ride Into The Light is hardly a journey into the unknown — Robert Jon & The Wreck have long since nailed their reassuringly stirring signature sound.

But the timely move to Joe Bonamassa’s Journeyman imprint appears to have imbued this brilliant band with fresh confidence and renewed ambition.

Those roots — the roots — now reach far beyond The Wreck’s humble Orange County beginnings.

Emotional Wreck

For those still looking to fill a giant-sized Temperance Movement hole, look no further than Who Can You Love.

It’s deeply affecting in the style of peak Phil Campbell.

And TTM’s guitarist Paul Sayer will find much to admire in the soulful, Southern rock-flavoured riff.

But Ride Into The Light has its rockier moments.

Punchy opener Pain No More could have been lifted from any one of Blackberry Smoke’s first three albums.

It’s an attention grabbing, gut-wrenching opener that gives Burrison the perfect platform to push the envelope.

Don’t Look Down’s another fast-paced Tom Petty-meets-Rival Sons mash-up tailor-made for a festival stage.

And the provocative call-to-arms chorus of Come At Me is the Wreck at their most riotous.

Dreamy single West Coast Eyes evokes memories of short-lived supergroup The Thorns — it’s easy to imagine Matthew Sweet, Shawn Mullins and Pete Droge dropping a folksy remix of this summer 2023 sensation.

A record richly shaded represents a new dawn for the impossibly prolific Robert Jon Burrison.

Backed by Bonamassa and with songs this good, Ride Into The Light feels like it’s just the start of an illuminating roots rock journey.