Artist: Grayson Hugh
Album: Back To The Soul
Release Date: 08/12/2015
A committed soul man for the better part of the past 27 years, Grayson Hugh makes a joyous noise on his latest LP, the aptly dubbed Back To The Soul. While certain songs bring to mind the archival imprint of Otis Redding, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Jerry Butler, Hugh’s original material gives the album a freshness and vitality that avoids any hint that this album is anything other than an absolutely spontaneous celebration. From the sheer exhilaration of album openers “Everybody Hangin’ On” and “We Were Havin’ Fun” to the touching emotional embrace of a tender ballad like “Already In Love With You,” Hugh’s songs sound like well-honed classics, even on the initial spin.
Happily too, Hugh’s arrangements enhance the overall experience. His deft keyboard playing recalls the essence of Booker T. and his crack band emulates the best of the Stax studio sound. While a track like “It’s Got Soul” may seem mundane on the surface, the solid groove conveys the intent to maximum effect. Likewise, “Rock ‘n Roll Man” conveys its well-trod notions with such an effortless energy, it would do the Temptations proud. Indeed, Hugh’s ability to revisit archival ideas and refurbish them for the current generation provides that timeless connection the album title obviously implies.
The art of procuring pure soul and genuine R&B has seemingly been lost in recent times, given the preponderance of rap and hip hop on the popular music scene. Kudos then to Grayson Hugh for reminding us of not only how it all began, but where it should remain.