Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Eric Hughes Band: “Meet Me In Memphis” (2017) CD Review

Yes, blues is the order of the day, and The Eric Hughes Band delivers a healthful dose of music to help with what ails you. And if you’re conscious, then probably a whole lot is ailing you these days. The Eric Hughes Band is based in Memphis, and their new album, Meet Me In Memphis, works as homage to that city. It features all original material, written by Eric Hughes. The Eric Hughes Band is made up of Eric Hughes on vocals, guitar and harmonica; Walter Hughes on guitar, mandolin and lap steel; Leo Goff on bass; Brian Aylor on drums; and Chris Stephenson on keys. Joining them on this release are Marc Franklin on trumpet, Art Edmaiston on saxophone, and Reba Russell and Susan Marshall on backing vocals.

The album opens with a good blues rock tune, “Freight Train Of Pain,” in which Eric Hughes sings “If you don’t like the blues, you’d better get off the track.” Yup, that’s just about right these days. It feels like we’re all on that train. “If you’re feeling low down, and all you do is lose/I’ll holler ‘All aboard’ ‘cause I was built for blues.”  That’s followed by “Meet Me In Memphis,” the title track, which has a sweeter, folk and soul vibe, with something of that classic Memphis sound, including some nice work on horns. Ah, perfect for a song about Memphis. “To feel the cool of the early morn/To hum a tune in the land where soul was born.” This song has a wonderful, easygoing feel that is working just exactly as it should. “No matter where you roam, no matter where you’re from/When you’re in Memphis, it always seems like home.” And that’s exactly how this song feels – like home.

“Roll A Fatty For Your Daddy” is a grooving, rockin’ blues number featuring some good work on guitar and keys. Man, there are some seriously cool moments in this tune, where it gets downright jazzy. This number kind of swings, you know? I love it. And then there’s the harmonica. Oh yes, Eric’s harmonica drives this one, and I’ll follow it down any road it travels. “It’s too bad I got to work hard all the time/I said, it’s too bad I got to work hard all the time/Roll me a fatty for your daddy/You know it’ll ease my worried mind.” Yup, that will work, and this music helps too. The next tune, “The Day They Hanged The Kid,” opens with the sound of a record starting, that bit of a static sound, which is unnecessary. But it’s a good song, with some really wonderful, expressive work on horns toward the end. “At a shamefully young age/Full of whiskey and rebel rage/He shot a stranger just to smell the smoke.”

“Left My Heart At Your Place” has a sweet, friendly feel that I love. Sure, the title is a bit cheesy, but the song is so damn effective and feels true and honest, and that goes a long way. “We should take it slow, give each other space/Falling too fast, ends up in disgrace/But when I close my eyes, I can see your face/I know I left my heart at your place.” I can’t help but love this song. That’s followed by “Midtown Blues,” which is kind of fun and playful with lines like “I walked to the grocery, I’m too hip to own a car” and “I wear an army jacket, but I never did enlist” and “Down to my cruelty-free shoes.”  This one employs a standard blues feel, which actually adds to the playfulness of the lines. By the way, I can’t recall the last time I heard the word “barf.” I’m thinking it was in high school. And I can’t offhand think of a single other song to use it. So, yeah, it caught me by surprise. “Made me some ramen noodles/But you know they made me barf/I was going to go out tonight, but I can’t find my scarf.” This track features some nice work on guitar, as does the following track, “I’m Knocking On Your Door.” I seriously dig that guitar part on that one. The album then concludes with “Believe I’m Going Fishing,” a fun, joyous song with a bright folk bent. And the line “We can tie you to the motor, so that fish don’t pull you in” made me laugh out loud the first time I listened to this disc.

CD Track List
  1. Freight Train Of Pain
  2. Meet Me In Memphis
  3. Roll A Fatty For Your Daddy
  4. The Day They Hanged The Kid
  5. Here Comes The Boogie Man
  6. Left My Heart At Your Place
  7. Midtown Blues
  8. I’m Knocking On Your Door
  9. Believe I’m Going Fishing 
Meet Me In Memphis was released on October 20, 2017.

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