Glenn Hughes, "The Voice of Rock", is busier than he's ever been. Following the unexpected and untimely demise of his ephemeral power trio, California Breed, a new album with Voodoo Hill last year, and the recent announcement of Black Country Communion's regrouping following their seemingly premature demise in 2013, he's back with another record under his own name. And, 'Resonate', his first solo work for eight years, is primed with the promise that it "might well be the most heavy sounding of his solo albums".
Joined in the studio by members of his solo band - guitarist Soren Andersen, drummer Pontus Engborg and Lachy Doley on keys - Red Hot Chili Peppers sticksman Chad Smith also contributes to the album's opener, 'Heavy', and closing track, 'Long Time Gone'. First off, it has to be said how well each of the musicians gel in each of the tracks, but I guess that comes with familiarity and instinctive awareness of each other's chop. Having said that, Doley is a relative newcomer to Hughes' band, although his work on keys sounds like he's been an integral part of this collective for a lot longer. Smith's contribution is but a fleeting one, although manages to make an indelible mark on the two tracks he plays, with his own stylistic traits.
So, what of the "heaviest solo album" claims? I guess this could very well be true, although don't expect an all-out metal album. Sure, it's heavy, but it's probably best regarded as occupying the middle-ground between the heaviest end of the hard rock scale, and the lighter side of metal. However, crank up the volume on this one, and it rocks is a massive way. It's also, in many places, a groovy bastard - just take the down-tempo, down-tuned, resonant grooves of 'Flow' and 'God of Money' as prime examples, where each song verges on stoner metal territory. Two of the heaviest cuts on the album, for sure. Elsewhere, we have the mild funk persuasions of 'Heavy' and the full-on funked up flavours of 'When I Fall'; the rock ballad overtones of 'Landmine'; and the hybrid balladic/rocking album closer, 'Long Time Gone', complete with a funky mid-section. It's all wrapped up in retro rock significance (the keys, in particular, posit songs within a bygone era), although it feels like genuine pastiche rather than stagnant regurgitation.
Hughes' voice sounds in great shape too, living up to that persistently perpetual moniker, and the vocal melodies he weaves into the instrumentations are hook-imbued from start to finish. And, instrumentally, everyone's on top form, too. In particular, Hughes' bass work is integral to the overall heavy sound of the album, rather than mere rhythmic backbone; and Andersen's groove-infused riffage and lead playing are bang on the money throughout, with his organic sounding fretboard widdlings. It's all pretty infectious stuff, it must be said. Hughes and Andersen have also done a great job with the production.
While 'Resonate' is an undeniably great album, I'm not so sure that cheeky press blurb claims of its 'Album of the Year' potential will be realised. That's just my opinion, of course, although I have heard and reviewed better albums this year, thus far. And, dare I say, I do prefer the sole, eponymously titled album spawned from Hughes' California Breed venture.
Review by Mark Holmes
4th Nov 2016
2) My Town
4) Let It Shine
6) God of Money
7) How Long
8) When I Fall
10) Stumble & Go
11) Long Time Gone
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"It's all wrapped up in retro rock significance (the keys, in particular, posit songs within a bygone era), although it feels like genuine pastiche rather than stagnant regurgitation."