Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CD Review: Clay Hughes' Burn

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge cover_clay_hughes_burn.jpg

Clay Hughes' Burn could be a radio juggernaut, if in the hands of the right people. Mixing the laid-back surfer folk of Jack Johnson with the psychedelic soul of Gnarls Barkley, Hughes has all the earmarks of a potential hit-maker.

Granted, the album isn't 100% perfect. The recording quality suffers at times, with the horns on "Passing Thoughts" and Jabee's guest spot on "The Truth" both sounding as if they were recorded inside a steel trashcan. Those are the sorts of touches that can really take you out of a recording. Funnily enough, however, other elements that might be described as "amateurish," like the dog barking at the end of one track, or the "oh, yeah!" on "Some People" actually end up lending an enthusiastic air to Burn.

There are attempts to make the album a little more hip-hop, with turntables on "Sunday Stroll," as well as the appearance by Jabee and Reach on "Better Than Me." Olivia Stover (Dysfunksion) does a nice Mary J Blige turn on "War of Life," providing a counterpoint to Hughes' mellow rasp, but Burn is really a down-home affair. The slide guitar on "Pointless," and the banjo on "Passing Through" stand as perfect examples of that.

Burn is best summed up by the fifth track, "Some People," which is mellow and relaxed, and it's during that song that you realize what Hughes is aiming for. His voice manages to sound both intimate and soaring, something like Coldplay's Chris Martin, a comparison brought home during the title track, which is a sparse affair, with a gorgeous backing track that sounds like a cello and piano backing Hughes' deepest thoughts.

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