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I CAN EXPLAIN
THE FOLK CORPORATION TFCCD 2010
(Released June 2004)
SOLUTION / WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE / I DRIVE A RED CAR NOW / SEND A MESSAGE / TWENTY ONE / NO AMOUNT OF MONEY / I CAN EXPLAIN / IN REALITY / TWO STROKE / THE HARDER YOU FALL / RUBY DOES / HEALTH & SAFETY
BBC Radio 2 Folk & Acoustic Website
Welcome to the world of David Hughes where the ability to rhyme "middle-aged man" with "Steeleye bloody Span" reveals a slightly oblique life-view with often darkly humorous songs colouring their own universe.
An acoustic guitarist/songwriter, he has released four other albums and one compilation besides being a published author of three books. This CD combines all the best qualities of his earlier recordings - the effective balance of complex and simple, fragility and resilience, with an urgency that feels fresh as the milk on your doorstep.
Small wonder then, that Ned Sherrin has taken him to heart with regular slots on Radio Four's Loose Ends - David's idiosyncratic musical agenda would be enough to commend him alone, but his are bouncy, pithy songs with a sense of purpose and the changes are rung from track to track. He can cover mid-life crises, modern business-speak and rueful hindsight equally well, yet for all his hard-bitten cynicism, Hughes wants to be loved (see the title track - "I'll see you again and we'll be the same, away from the storm clouds, the wind and the rain.")
His off-the-wall tales about enigmatic characters tipped askew by the world and striving to find some air pockets of hope express a universal humanity (Who Could Ask For Anything More?), whilst the edgy languor of Send A Message is a potent should I/shouldn't I? moment of romantic indecision.
Embellishing the basic guitar/vox with some sonic alchemy are, amongst others, such stellar talents as Gerry Conway, Jacqui McShee and Bert Jansch, and David Hughes is steadily making his mark. Here he's come up with a fully-rounded work which will have appeal for all those who like their songs to be about something.
November 2004 Netrhythms
I first ran into Mr. Hughes many moons back, well, 1998 to be factual. He was the opening act on the Fairport Convention Winter Tour. Two songs into his set I was hooked, two albums behind and heading for the merchandise stand. The latter act, you understand, to be held in check until the end of the set.
And what a set. It was Tom Lehrer and Paddy Roberts filtered through the cultural upheaval that had made both of em bit players on Two Way Family Favourites, whilst his guitar playing owed much to the funkiness of Bert Jansch. In short he had it all. Almost.
What I /we didn't know was that David Hughes was about to have a vision. In cohorts with producer Mark Tucker, he produced This Other Eden, an album that's as much a landmark folk album as, say, John Martyn's Solid Air. With that album he created a niche that remains unequalled, making music that recognisably doffs a cap to BJ, Lehrer and anyone who ever wrote a literate lyric; emotionally retains its folk roots and yet would clearly sit easily in Jose Padilla's Cafe Del Mar soundscapes.
For I Can Explain he remains with Mark Tucker under the producer's umbrella and moves the process forward, distilling the sound further and alchemising a fresh funky folk ambient dance fusion that's not only unique but so patently Hughes it's beyond replication. What's more, it's acoustic. And that could be that. I Can Explain sounds great on the hi-fi; it motors along repaying visit after visit with another previously missed sonic sweetie. Gladly, there's more. The song-writing.
David Hughes is first and foremost a songwriter, however he dresses his words and music they remain the bedrock. His lyrics are dangerously sharp, observant, sardonic and, here a mite more emotionally open than before, I feel. I know that David's own life has been rocked of late and I don't want to be so crass as to label this his Blood On The Tracks but there's a sense of self observation that underpins his vignettes of modern life; his impatience with the futility of imposed wisdom, the wry possibilities of Friends Reunited, pride in his daughter and, in the title song - well you have to listen to that one, rarely have I heard a heart so open.
Did I mention that it's just DH with Chris While, Julie Matthews, Jacqui McShee, Helen Watson, Martin Brunsden and the remarkable Gerry Conway sprinkled with Tucker's magic? Did I tell you that you'll love and need this album like so few others? No. Well it is and you will. It also, sadly, goes without saying, that David Hughes should never, never have had to write the title track; "And I know I promised our dreams would come true / But my kind of genius shows no visible gain". I wish I could explain.