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Gary Hughes: Waterside
Gary Hughes - Waterside Album Art

Gary Hughes: Waterside

Melodic Hard Rock/AOR

2021 will be a landmark year for British vocalist and songwriter Gary Hughes. The long serving Ten singer will release his first solo album in more than 14 years, Waterside, and also release a two CD compilation album, Decades, featuring songs from his 30 year career. Both albums arrive on the Frontiers Music label; we'll consider the former new solo album in this review.

Gary Hughes  - Click For Larger Image

Gary Hughes

As a vocalist and songwriter, Gary Hughes needs little introduction to most melodic rock fans. But some may mostly know him for his work with Ten, a melodic metal ensemble. That would be my case. In fifteen years of music reviewing, I have never been offered, or barely heard of, a Gary Hughes solo album. In the case of Riverside, we find Hughes exploring the AOR melodic hard rock genre. But his vocal style changes little. Hughes's voice is smooth and melodic, with little range in expression like he's afraid his voice will break. He's quite fine at following and advancing song melody and harmon, but often I find his voice to sound monotone and unemotional. I know a great many readers will take issue with this observation, but it's merely a personal and subjective matter of musical taste.

What I appreciate most about Hughes is his fine songwriting. You'll be hard to find AOR melodic hard rock of this caliber elsewhere. Again, Hughes has a strong sense of song melody and harmony, the necessity of rock rhythm and groove to propel a song, the use of a catchy refrain to grab you, and strong guitar solos to thrill you. That, indeed, is the essence of strong and classic melodic hard rock. Yet, beyond his voice, within the song arrangements several elements rose quickly to catch my ears. These include the piano intros and lingering piano melodies in many songs, the strong bass lines provided by David Rosingana, and the vigorous lead guitar solos from fellow Ten band mate Dan Rosingana. Most excellent examples are found with All At Once It Feels Like I Believe, Screaming In The Half Light, and Video Show. But also the heavier numbers like Electa-Glide, Waterside, and Save My Soul. All in all, Gary Hughes' Waterside is a solid album of AOR melodic hard rock featuring his sound songwriting and familiar vocal style. Recommended. - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

Gary Hughes' Waterside is a solid album of AOR melodic hard rock featuring his sound songwriting and familiar vocal style. Recommended.

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