DAVID HUGHES – Songs Of Integrity (The Folk Corporation TFCCD2012)

IntegrityDavid Hughes is something of a rebel which should endear him to me but, to be honest, I’ve always been a bit Marmite about him. I’m sure that would please him no end.

A solo acoustic gig is probably his forte and this set, recorded at The Blue Boar Hotel in Maldon, finds him on home ground and in his element. He has a spiky humour which he underplays and it takes him a while to warm up. ‘David Hughes 116th Dream’ doesn’t really work; it’s too close to him to have universal appeal, unless you habitually dream about Emerson Fittipaldi. ‘Wasted’ is self-deprecating and ‘Blue Car’ is surprisingly tender although it raises a wry smile. ‘You And I Both Know It Had To End’ is where he really gets into it. His introduction, over a demonstration of late 60s guitar picking, is wickedly funny. The album title comes from this song and it’s bitingly funny in his understated way.

From here on it’s all good. ‘Immortal, Invisible’ is a brilliant put-down of modern religious observances as far as the singing of hymns is concerned. I think I share his views on religion but like him I’ve suspended my incredulity many times to enjoy a good sing. ‘Thoughts And Prayers’ takes a swipe at the superficiality of Facebook and in sharp contrast ‘Heart Of Stone’ relates the story of a small town murder and people’s reactions to it. It’s sung unemotionally in a way that reminds me of Bob Dylan in his early reportage period. It’s a song that everyone should hear.

Hughes’ mix of dry humour and serious points compels you to listen carefully, lest you miss something, and his finger-picked guitar is as understated as everything about him, giving the impression that he’s better than he wants to let on. I’m a lot less Marmite about him now.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.davidhughesmusic.co.uk

‘Wasted’ live at The Blue Boar, Maldon in 2011: