ROBBY HECHT – Robby Hecht (Old Man Henry Records)

robby hechtA UK tour from late June with David Berkeley and Peter Bradley Adams should bring overdue wider recognition for Hecht, an East Tennessee born singer-songwriter who’s overcome bipolar disorder to record what are, with the release of his latest, three outstanding albums.

Blessed with a honeyed and soulful voice that blends elements of Marc Cohn, Don McLean, Justin Rutledge and Paul Simon and superbly produced by Lex Price, he delivers a warm brew of  mellow rootsy Americana in a relaxed, unhurried style, his songs reflecting the ebb and flow of the heart, whether addressing the end of a relationship as on ‘I Don’t Believe It’, the strangers in the night memory of ‘Cars And Bars’, the celebration of life that is ‘Feeling It Now’ where he references his own personal struggle or the drum thumping march beat bittersweet love song to New York City.

Elsewhere that same laid back groove casts a comforting glow over the slow waltzing ‘Soon I As Sleeping’, a melancholic sorrows-drowning duet with Rose Cousins, the jazzy, horns-backed late night mood of ‘The Light Is Gone’’s lost love (where his voice almost breaks down with hurt) and the dreamy star-lit night skies feel of ‘When I’m With You Now’.

Although he does tranquil and forlorn to perfection, there is one musically upbeat track, the pedal steel coloured, scuffling rhythm of  ‘Papa’s Down The Road Dead’ (despite what you might expect, it’s more celebratory than downcast) which has a similar vibe to Simon’s ‘Born At The Right Time’, minus, of course, the Latin American touches. Even the title sounds Simonesque.

As with his previous albums, there’s one cover version, the choice this time being ‘Hard Times’ by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings albeit, backed by piano and organ, a somewhat softer, soul-wearied reading than the original, while those fortunate to have discovered the stellar talents of Amy Speace will be familiar with ‘The Sea And The Shore’, an achingly beautiful impossible love allegory co-write that previously appeared on her How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat.

While many an artist may enjoy regional success, given the sheer size of the competition out there these days,  it’s becoming increasingly harder to break out into the Americana mainstream but if anyone truly deserves to, it is Hecht.

Mike Davies

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