Gary Hughes – Waterside
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Running Time: 49:47
Review by Simon Black
Gary Hughes is a name I’ve not heard much of recently, despite the fact that he has a prodigiously prolific rate of output. I first came across him in the late 1990’s when Ten appeared out of the blue and stubbornly refused to acknowledge any of the current fads in rock music and to carry the torch of Melodic Hard Rock firmly forward for long enough to restart the genre. Ten’s contribution is significant, but the man has put his name to many more projects and is probably single-handedly responsible for reinvigorating Bob Catley from Magnum’s career when that act went on hiatus (check his first solo album “The Tower” on which Hughes’ very distinctive song writing and musical tone is clearly audible if you don’t believe me).
This, however, is the first time I have listened to one of Hughes’ solo recordings, although with at least half of the members of Ten playing on here anyway, it feels more like a side-step than stepping out. I was expecting pure Melodic Hard Rock in the Ten vein, but this is a slightly softer sounding piece of work. Vocally he is quite restrained and mellow, despite the sometimes more rockin’ nature of the tracks. Lyrically is a bit more of a mixed bag though. I was less than impressed with some of the lyrics. ‘Lay Down’ with its S&M references invoking a bygone age of 80’s latex-clad bimbos in music videos felt downright cringe worthy and really not what’s needed in this day and age – despite it being attached to one of the catchier sounding songs on the record. But on the flip side of this are thoughtful, evocative and heart-warming songs that showcase his song-writing abilities perfectly. I’m normally quite wary of Melo-Rock Power ballads, but Hughes has a gift for them and plenty are to be found on here.
As always with Hughes you get well-structured songs that lead the ear through gently and tell you where to start waving the phone lights during the live show. The songs individually are fine, but I am struggling to find too many strong tracks on here – the exception being the title track, which has oodles more energy and pace than the majority of the disk and was a wise choice for the lead track. His voice has naturally aged over the decades and this time he’s playing to that tone rather than trying to push himself and generally this works absolutely fine. It’s a calm bit of Melodic Rock, but doesn’t quite have the energy that I was hoping for.
01. All At Once It Feels Like I Believe
02. Electra- Glide
03. Lay Down
04. The Runaway Damned
05. Screaming In The Half Light
07. Video Show
08. Save My Soul
09. Seduce Me
10. When Love Is Done
Gary Hughes – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitars
Dann Rosingana – Lead Guitar
David Rosingana – Bass Guitar
Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards and Drums
Karen Fell – Backing Vocals
Scott Hughes – Lead and Backing Vocals
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