Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Glenn Hughes has quite possibly one of the most impressive resumes in music.
Starting his career with the cult classic funk rock trio Trapeze, the bass guitarist and singer found himself with various stints in a wide variety of groups over the years, including two iterations of hard rock mainstays Deep Purple, a handful of collaborations with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and the critically acclaimed blues rock super groups Black Country Communion and California Breed.
In the interim of his major projects, Hughes has also released several albums as a solo artist since 1977. After an eight-year hiatus, he finally has a new solo album, Resonate, out for longtime fans.
Prior to the 2010s, Hughes has always had a connection to soul and funk. Whether it was Trapeze or Deep Purple’s dabbling into both genres during his tenure, he made it known that his Motown- inspired influences played an integral role in his singing style.
With Black Country Communion and California Breed, the former of which is also returning with a new studio album this May after a brief split, Hughes has shed the funk and soul in favor of full blown hard rock and blues rock that draws inspiration from his fellow contemporaries like Bad Company, Free and Led Zeppelin.
Resonate, musically speaking, seems to pick up where both projects left off and the end result is an album that leaves fans of both bands thoroughly satisfied.
The record gets things started quickly with “Heavy.” The title of the song is absolutely apt for both the song and the album as a whole. The song grabs listeners with an intense assault of hard rock and only gets more powerful across all 11 tracks.
The energy of this song carries over throughout the whole album and there are hardly any moments to catch one’s breath.
To top it all off is Hughes’ voice, which does not seem to show any signs of aging whatsoever. Listening to this album, it is very easy to figure out why he is known as “the voice of rock” alongside legends like Robert Plant and Paul Rodgers.
Another aspect of Hughes that was quite surprising on this album was his bass playing. While Hughes never claimed to be on the level of John Entwistle and Lemmy Kilmister, the bass guitar throughout this album is hard crunching and stands beside the guitar while still locking down a steady groove that drives the songs.
One area that contrasts the rest of the album is the lyrics. While the influence of 1970s hard rock is prevalent on the album, Hughes opts not to mimic the simple lyrical prowess of classic rock. Instead, he goes for a very introspective approach to the words.
Hughes tackles subjects like his newfound appreciation for life after becoming sober, his ambivalence toward the music industry and artists who do their music solely for monetary gain and his reconciliation with his sense of faith and religion.
Compared to what he has done in the past, solo or otherwise, this new album shows how far he has come along in the lyrical department.
While the whole album is nothing but heaviness all throughout, two tracks on the album provide light deviations from the album that manages to bring musical diversity without killing the overall flow. “Landmines” sees Hughes paying tribute to the funk and soul influences that shaped his career and “When I Fall” is a ballad that dabbles in progressive rock with its heavy use of keyboards.
Hughes’ backing band, taken from his recent touring band, augments the overall classic rock sound for which the album is aiming. Guitar work is handled by Soren Andersen, who ties together elements of all of the major guitarists that Hughes worked with including Ritchie Blackmore, the late Tommy Bolin and Joe Bonamassa, along with a more modern heavy metal sensibility.
For most of the album, Pontus Engborg is sitting behind the drum kit, bringing a sound that bears strong influence to classic drummers like John Bonham. On keyboards is Lachy Doley, providing the classic Hammond B3 organ sound that was heavily defined by both Deep Purple’s Jon Lord and Black Country Communion’s Derek Sherinian, all while incorporating elements of modern players like Jens Johansson.
For the opening and closing tracks, Hughes enlists the help of a longtime collaborator, drummer Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Much like Hughes, Smith manages to transition impeccably across genres, giving a drumming performance that also has a lot of influence from both aforementioned drummers.
It might have taken eight years, but Resonate was definitely worth the wait. For those looking forward to more of Hughes, as mentioned earlier, Black Country Communion will be returning this May for their long awaited fourth album.