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SONGS OF INTEGRITY
LIVE AT THE BLUE BOAR HOTEL
THE FOLK CORPORATION TFCCD 2012
(Pre-Release October 2014)
WASTED / BLUE CAR / DAVID HUGHES' 116TH DREAM / AN ORDINARY LIFE / YOU AND I BOTH KNOW IT HAD TO END / IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE / BEING A POET / THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS / HEART OF STONE / SHOUTING AT THE RADIO / THE MOON WAS IN A THOUSAND PIECES / THIS OTHER EDEN / HOLD YOUR HORSES WOMAN / WHO'S THAT? - THE SUMMER OF LOVE / SENSITIVITY
A David Hughes gig - any David Hughes gig - is something of an unearthly experience, at once firmly rooted in the Essex clay (listen out for an appearance on track 9) yet at the same time leaving his audience entranced and gazing upwards (there's a lot of that on track 11).
It's this unexpected combination that hits you, rather like Ali's famous left hand jab followed by a fast overhand right - so you're still recovering from the first when the second one lands right on the kisser. The local and the universal, the specific and the encompassing, the pointing finger and the open arms.
He's made fine studio albums of course - This Other Eden is particularly sumptuous while 50 Yards of David Hughes gets straight to the point - where the words that tumble from the speakers are set against expansive keyboard textures, sweeping harmonies (he's always liked a good girl group) and grooves that put a spring in your spine.
But for all that, there's nothing quite like a David Hughes solo gig to tickle the ribs and salve the soul, so you're very welcome to this, 15 so-called 'songs of integrity' recorded live at the legendary Blue Boar in Maldon, Essex. It's intimate stuff, sprinkled with wry wit and acerbic asides ("dry as tinder, more observant than Jodrell Bank" a critic once observed) and transforms the recording from a collection of digital zeroes and ones into something close to what the audience experienced on the night - singer-songwriting of the highest order, determinedly local and irrefutably universal. The old Ali one-two.
Rob Beattie, October 2014
DAVID HUGHES - Songs Of Integrity (The Folk Corporation TFCCD2012)
David Hughes is something of a rebel which should endear him to me but, to be honest, I've always been a bit Marmite about him. I'm sure that would please him no end. A solo acoustic gig is probably his forte and this set, recorded at The Blue Boar Hotel in Maldon, finds him on home ground and in his element.
He has a spiky humour which he underplays and it takes him a while to warm up. 'David Hughes 116th Dream' doesn't really work; it's too close to him to have universal appeal, unless you habitually dream about Emerson Fittipaldi. 'Wasted' is self-deprecating and 'Blue Car' is surprisingly tender although it raises a wry smile. 'You And I Both Know It Had To End' is where he really gets into it. His introduction, over a demonstration of late 60s guitar picking, is wickedly funny. The album title comes from this song and it's bitingly funny in his understated way.
From here on it's all good. 'Immortal, Invisible' is a brilliant put-down of modern religious observances as far as the singing of hymns is concerned. I think I share his views on religion but like him I've suspended my incredulity many times to enjoy a good sing. 'Thoughts And Prayers' takes a swipe at the superficiality of Facebook and in sharp contrast 'Heart Of Stone' relates the story of a small town murder and people's reactions to it. It's sung unemotionally in a way that reminds me of Bob Dylan in his early reportage period. It's a song that everyone should hear.
Hughes' mix of dry humour and serious points compels you to listen carefully, lest you miss something, and his finger-picked guitar is as understated as everything about him, giving the impression that he's better than he wants to let on. I'm a lot less Marmite about him now.