An American Record

by Grayson Hugh

Released 03/01/2010
Swamp Yankee Records
Released 03/01/2010
Swamp Yankee Records
Here is the long awaited comeback release from critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and blue-eyed soul legend Grayson Hugh. In the words of one writer: "Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story - our story - has to be heard."
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Here is the long-awaited new release from critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Grayson Hugh. Bursting on the scene in 1988 with his debut RCA album "Blind To Reason", Hugh wowed listeners and concert audiences around the world with his soulful voice, poetic lyrics and masterful piano and Hammond B3 playing. "Bind To Reason" garnered several international radio hits including "Talk It Over", "Bring It All Back" and "How Bout Us". The album went gold in the U.S. and Australia. His follow-up release "Road To Freedom" (MCA 1992) was named one of the year's top-ten albums by Billboard Magazine. Pulitzer prize-winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. called Hugh one of the most exciting newcomers in the last decade.

Now, after more than fifteen years' silence, we have "An American Record" by Grayson Hugh - a collection of new songs and stories from this important American artist. In the words of one writer: "Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story - our story - has to be heard."

Here is an excerpt from a review in CMAWorld by Bob Doerschuk:

"Hugh's path has led him to the summit as a musician, performer and writer; his multifaceted talents manifested in formats as varied as soul, jazz, Western swing, study with piano legends Ran Blake and Jaki Byard, a gig playing piano in an African-American church as well as accompaniment and composition for modern dance.

All of these elements and more came together in his own unique sound when Hugh burst onto the scene with Blind to Reason, his major-label debut in 1988. The album impacted, lofting the single “Talk It Over” into the Top 20 and featuring a duet with R&B star Betty Wright on “How ‘Bout Us.” Billboard would laud his second album, Road to Freedom, as one of the ten best of 1992; his songs were featured on soundtracks for Fried Green Tomatoes and Thelma & Louise.

Then, in 1994, after being dropped by his label in a moment of misguided restructuring, Hugh suddenly found himself without the financial support necessary to keep a band on the road.  He moved to rural North Carolina and attempted to rejuvenate his career in surroundings far-removed from New York and Los Angeles.  After a year of slowly going broke and unable to find a new record label, he moved back north where he landed a job teaching songwriting at Berklee College Of Music in Boston.  While there, he continued to write songs prolifically and was even commissioned to compose some scores for several modern dance companies. But in 2001, he spun into a free-fall and a near-fatal relapse with alcohol and drugs that landed him in a sober house on Cape Cod for three years.

Hugh's rise from that point to his present renaissance owes to two factors: his determination to apply everything he has experienced, the worst as well as the best, to redefining and strengthening himself as an artist, and the invaluable help of his wife, backup singer and soul mate Polly Messer, who met him in 1980 but would enter his life years later as his best friend, greatest inspiration and true artistic partner.

From the worst of his times, Hugh emerged with a strength and focus that filters now into his work.

Hugh's recent personal and artistic achievements inform every track on his new album, An American Record. This overlay of art and heart breathes a gospel air into the irresistibly churchy “Tell Me How You Feel,” paints a stark yet beckoning landscape on "North Ohio", cranks up the funk in the cocky, horn-stabbed strut and haunting chanted coda of “Swamp Yankee,” hangs a lover’s plea over an elegant and unforgettable chorus hook on “Give Me One Good Reason” … Every track tells its story with a mix of passion, craft and impact that’s rare in our time. In flaunting the discipline and knack for accessibility that distinguished his earlier recordings and compositions, "An American Record" confirms his return as a commercial as well as artistic force."

-Bob Doerschuk, CMAworld.com, April 21, 2010