Originally a 2018 digital release, this superb album is now available on CD via the inimitable ‘pantheon of pop’ that is Wally Salem’s The Beautiful Music label.
Appropriately, no act is more suitable to adorn their roster, for this, the project of James Hughes (best known from his days with 80’s scouse-pop band The Cherry Boys) revels in that uncluttered, acutely accessible pop aesthetic that has become the label’s trademark.
Accordingly Hughes/album conveys a plethora of influences with genuine adoration, whilst simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of parody as he imbues his own disparate lifeblood into the core sound.
Initially the opening triumvirate of What Do You Know About Ray, Rock n Roll (Took me to the River) and the superlative Under my Skin (see below) are the sound of the 60’s if 80’s sophisti-pop had been invented, all smooth rounded notes, beautiful production and huge globules of earnest maturity. Effectively three ear-worms of the highest order.
Hughes probably could have refused to twist here and still had a superb hand. However, the dynamism of this album would not be thwarted. As such Hughes find natural, more modern homes for the slight psych/organ inflected 60s bands like Left Banke, Sagittarius and ‘Village Green…‘ era The Kinks, in tracks such as Jade, There’s a Rainbow and Theme From ‘The Main Chance’, whilst still accommodating for the album’s true stand out it in the Beatles-isms of Just A Smile.
It has taken over a year to get this into a format that can slip into your stereo…it could well take just as long before it comes back out !