One by Al Hughes
Imported from the UK by Listening Post
Al Hughes is a 27 year old rising new talent from Birmingham. Currently touring around the UK promoting his debut CD release - ONE - , Al is not your standard singer-songwriter. Tinges of soul, rock, blues, jazz and latin music are all evident, and his strong, soulful voice truly impresses within his maturely written songs. Citing such influences as Prince, Tom Waits, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon to name but a few, all these artists are hinted at in Al's music. He's not bad on the guitar either. Cross Hendrix with Joni with a pinch of Ben Harper and you're pretty much there.
His live performances are a mix of solo acoustic shows and his awesome 3 piece band. Guitar, voice, double bass and drums provide the perfect showcase for his songs, and is best described by Al as "the stripped-down-soul-sound".
"How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? Put it in a hot oven til its bill withers. Get it?? Bill Withers by the way is one of the listed influences of Birmingham artist Al Hughes,along with Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Prince. If the influence of Mitchell and Simon are evident in the style and quality of his lyric writing the musical style definitely leans in the light soul genre of Withers. And Hughes definitely has the voice to carry it off. Tuneful, melodic and laid back this guy has a finesse that belies his youthful years, and sounds very reminiscent of Walter Wolfman washington.
Instrumentation is well considered and varied, with Hughes' own guitar tracks being effectively augmented by keys and brass instruments. A special mention should go to Simon Scardanelli and Surinder Sandhu at Pacific Studios, who have done an excellent job in the production of this set. Of the five tracks on this CD there isn't a bad one, and with a style that very quickly grows on you, I think this young man is destined for good times ahead."
Shapes & Storylines review - Ryan's Gig Guide April '05
"Listening to this makes me think of Tonight with Jools Holland. The production is excellent and backing vocals by Alison Simmons are wonderful. You can tell that Al Hughes has selected THE top people for his recording. Probably not aimed at the kids this one, but it needs appreciation by everyone."
"Al Hughes 5 track EP ‘Shapes and Story Lines’ (all of which are contained on the CD ONE) is a unique little package. It’s interesting to note that in the sleeve that it credits all the many musicians and vocalists featured which is not usually the case of singles or EPs. But what do they deliver?
‘Melody Right’ sounds like the kind of music that you hear backing up an amusing car advert. Mr Hughes himself and his backing bring it out of that and make it sound more like something you might hear on the Riviera (except in English!).
‘Don’t Ask Why’ is far more relaxed whilst ‘My Life Story’ livens up into the cabaret act again. In fact the only song that breaks out of this (or should I say that might be construed as something else) is the final track ‘Schemes’. It is still in the same vein but with a harder edge to it, so Al Hughes may have some wonderful Rock or even Country sensibilities about him as well.
Classy and jazzy for sure – this is easy listening in spades."
Steven Hurst - Glasswerk
1. Melody Right