“JackPotLuck” is the long-time independent side project of Gary Bonnani, a singer-songwriter currently based in New York. Bonanni’s main band, Just Married, was formed ten years ago and has toured extensively. Essentially, this album is a collection of all the ideas that Bonnani has worked with and recorded in his home studio that didn’t fit the sound of Just Married. Realizing the compilation of tracks had a great degree of potential, producer Alon Lotringer aided in the production of the six songs that would make up the “JackPotLuck” EP, which was released in January.
This album is vintage to its core. “JackPotLuck” is everything that a blues-based, stern rock album should be; the sound on these tracks is crunchy, straightforward, insistent, packs tons of groove, and has the perfect degree of rawness that can be associated with late sixties recordings. In terms of overall tone and presentation, Bonanni certainly gets top marks. The guitars are white hot throughout the mix; not too toasted and fuzzed out, but still dirty enough to keep an unbridled edginess while avoiding any hint of overproduction. Bonanni is certainly a talent multi-instrumentalist, considering he is responsible for all vocals and instrumentation, but a lot of credit here needs to go to the producer, Alon Lotringer. One can probably assume that when Lotringer came across these tracks that they were already in a state of “unpolishedness”, but to be able to dial that tone in as a strength of these songs without killing their general mood is a demonstration of taste and musical knowledge that is deserving of great praise. Bonanni has excellent, raw, electric ideas and gives a fantastic performance on “JackPotLuck”, but based on some of the mixing and production choices, it is important to point out that Lotringer really allowed this project to reach its fullest potential. Bonanni’s compositions themselves stand as somewhat of a cross between some of the more assertive Pink Floyd tunes (listen to Ugly Garden as an example) and early, Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac. There is definitively a presence of static and fuzz-laden, wild, uncomposed, fiery British late sixties blues rock throughout these tracks, particularly on songs such as “The Saddle” and “The Feeling”. There are little to no fancy embellishments, everything is kept in-your-face, and the instrumentation is generally groove-worthy and dynamic. This riffage is as fat and crunchy as it is pure, no doubt about it.
Bonanni does an excellent job in “JackPotLuck” of giving the public a truly vintage and beefy late sixties musical presentation. However, the vocals are mediocre through most of the songs; nothing special, but certainly enough to accommodate the music and make for a pretty fine album. That being said, the vocal performance throughout the songs may leave some listeners confused, especially by the last track, “The Feeling”, where Bonanni really amps up his vocal performance and delivers a mighty rasp that rounds out the entire song. Those vocals are way better and more fitting than his singing on the rest of the album, and it is somewhat puzzling that he only saved his best voice for the last song. The raspy vocals and screams would have really raised the bar and made songs like The Saddle, Careless Talking, and The Feeling even more raw, electric, and wild than they already are. Bonanni appears to have a better voice than he leads on to have through most of the album, and it is disappointing to a certain degree that he may not have given a vocal performance to his full potential on these excellent tracks.
As an on-the-side compilation of individual ideas, this album is fantastic. We should all be thankful that producer Alon Lotringer took this project on and helped Bonanni release a high quality piece of fiery blues-rock. “JackPotLuck” is edgy, raw, wild, and full of fat groove and vintage tone. This EP is electric English fuzz on fire.
Label: Giveli Records
Genre: Blues Rock
Sounds Like: Early Fleetwood Mac/Pink Floyd
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skills: 9/10
Best Songs: The Saddle, The Feeling
Strengths: Excellent overall sound/tone, great songwriting
Weaknesses: Vocal capabilities are limited, Album direction can waver