Craig Hughes. Hard Times Volume 1

Writing on the (assured) presumption that all those who frequent Blabber’n’Smokeland have a copy of Jim Dead’s tremendous Ten Fires to hand we direct you to the fiery guitar therein, much of it provided by local blues colossus, Craig Hughes. Much like his fellow blues traveller, Dave Arcari, (a guy who looks like he’s possessed by the devil while delivering his blues damnations), Hughes puts his all into a performance commanding the stage, growling for all he’s worth while turning out some awesome picking be it electric or acoustic. Fortunately he’s a dab hand at conjuring up this magic in the studio as well as he has demonstrated on the Jim Dead album, his recent forays as part of the uber heavy Dog Howl Moon or solo as on this, his latest EP.
His debut album, Pissed Off, Bitter and Willing to Share was considered by a Canadian publication to be the best UK blues album of 2009 while his shared platter with yet another local bluesman, Sleepy Eyes Nelson won plaudits galore. Now he unleashes Hard Times, Volume 1, a six song EP that runs the gamut from acoustic blues to rockabilly mayhem.
Promises, Promises sees Hughes running down the blues as he slides away on acoustic and growls his resolutions to give up drinking, fighting and lovin’. Straightforward and excellent and a fine opener. He Loved Her and Sent Her To Hell stomps along with drum assistance from Ally Tennick as Hughes delivers a cautionary tale that wouldn’t go amiss on a Nick Cave album. Hard Times Every Day is less pugnacious although as a diatribe against the recession it follows in the grand tradition of songs like Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime as Hughes captures a sense of futility and failure singing “It’s hard to keep your chin up when you’re face down in the dirt.” Tapes For My Walkman lightens the mood on a banjo driven send up of a guy sticking to obsolete technology (apart from the needle for his stereo, still a must folks). The slide guitar returns for Left To Crawl as Hughes displays his songwriting and playing skills to great effect as he whizzes around the fretboard with a fair degree of wizardry while his words capture a poignant memory of a relationship that foundered and as the woman goes on to have a family the protagonist draws into himself. This is a great song and it recalls the likes of Richard Thompson’s early solo work. For the finale Hughes puffs up his chest and goes into Cramps mode with Cave Full Of Woman Bones. Fuzz guitar fuzzes and drums stomp on this caveman rocker that good old Lux would have loved.
So, six songs, all crackers. Hughes acknowledges the modern world and as such he’s offered the disc for download on a pay what you will basis on his Bandcamp site. However if you care to have a real life artefact in your mitts then it’s yours for the measly sum of £4, the price of a pint almost. Whatever way you get it I’m sure you’ll dig it.

bandcamp page

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One thought on “Craig Hughes. Hard Times Volume 1

  1. Pingback: Newsletter February 2013 « Channel Nowhere

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