Adam Hattaway and the Haunters – Rooster: Album Review

Adam Hattaway and the Haunters double album Rooster reveals the band in the thrall of the spirit of Exile on Main Street. That presence, which was there on the previous Woolston album has blossomed in full.

Hattaway’s singing hooks in immediately and carries a sonic presence over all twenty-two songs. An impressive feat. Unmistakable Celtic Soul tones of the Seventies Van Morrison. Appropriated and absorbed to make it his own distinctive voice.

Americana and it’s various styles but mostly Country Soul. There is a relaxed air over the whole album. It may reflect the confinement to quarters of Pandemic Year Zero. Combined with the reflection on mortality that a major earthquake in your town and its endless aftershocks bring. Roots Country music entwined with Blues.

Adam Hattaway & the Haunters-

Back in Jail Again starts with a Gospel Soul piano lead. The tenor voice is slurred a little, sounding like Levon Helm as a young buck. Mournful New Orleans horns in the back. Jimmy Rogers is there in the lyrics. Jail is made to sound like salvation.

The style steps out overtly on Honor Lee. A nice Gospel Yodel in the chorus, the leap to falsetto. Got a memory that’s chasin’ me/ Looking for a new tomorrow. A fat bass bottom similar to Rick Danko of the Band. A genuine Jimmy Roger’s blue yodel finishes the song.

Riding the River has been co-written by Delaney Davidson. Southern Country Rock with a louche swing. Fiddles and some Allmans style Boogie guitar. A song to the Western landscapes of a classic John Ford Western.

It’s Hard and Hattaway references another song stylist. Well, I’ve been listening to Jerry Lee/ With my head between my knees. Country Boogie with some inspired singing.  

When they ride into Atlanta, it’s a Southern reverie with a great Swing melody. Got a five-piece band/ Got a right-hand man. A mood of regret and yearning.

Cold Cold Wind. The Country Soul voice can sound a little like John Hiatt too.

A great horn section is used liberally throughout. On Whatever This Is they lead in Stax style, with the singer riding in behind and stepping lightly.

Honey Don’t Lie has a similar Memphis Horns lead. The production is spare and unobtrusive throughout. You may spot a brief instrumental solo here and there.

I Hardly Exist has more overt Van Morrison phrasing. The sound of cult favourite Veedon Fleece. I recall two numbers at least from this album, when Hattaway and band performed a tribute concert to Grumpy late in 2020.

Blood Moon sounds like a traditional Folk club singalong in Heartland New Zealand. A bit of Blues with a nice change-up from a slide guitar and harmonica.

Ain’t My Job rings to the bells of Dylan’s Positively Fourth Street. You’ve got a funny way of showing me you love me/ Ain’t it my job to protect you from the storm.

Hattaway was also in the continually morphing and shape-shifting noisy Folk ensemble The Eastern. Reb Fountain orbits around it still, and Adam McGrath still leads by sheer force of personality. Keep Walking has someone adding a nice fiddle. Celtic Folk swing and it veers into Pop melodically whilst keeping its pastoral feet on the ground.

You Made a Drinking Man. Nice Country Swing with fiddle and the sly humour of the Stones. Not quite as cynical and piss-taking. The heart is always there though, with the Young Soul Rebels and the shrinking Grandpa’s.

Adam Hattaway & the Haunters-What’s happening on the title track Rooster? A Boogie piano and some Country Rockabilly as they do a warm-up vocal with you ain’t got nothin’ on Elmore Jones. Sounds like guys fooling around in the Sun Studio. Right, I get it.

Iv’ry Town. Once more around the room with Caldonian Soul and a song which recalls Morrison’s Wonderful Remark.

A beautiful feast will soon be ready/ When we go to Iv’ry town.

A celebration of Country Americana and down-home spirit. Carried on a great vocal performance throughout. The young Lion has got something to make the old Lion listen.

Rev Orange Peel

Marty Duda talked to Adam Hattaway about Rooster and what the band is up to the other day. Watch that HERE.