Blue eyed soul man Hugh James after a long hiatus returns to the spotlight with his all new single and music video “My Brother’s Shoes,” a heartwarming ballad dedicated to the singer/songwriter’s brother whose passing inspired the words of the song. Hugh James has built up quite a reputation for himself as a modern-day Billy Joel of sorts, dispatching quietly well received ballads in the American underground. “My Brother’s Shoes” is one of his more polished efforts to date, and anyone who might question whether or not the Los Angeles based composer is cut out to make it on the mainstream level would do well to give the single’s incredible melody and thoughtful lyrics a thorough analysis.
The piano play in “My Brother’s Shoes” is very crisp, almost like a chilly wind on an autumn afternoon. The instrumental portions of this song in general are very well balanced with the vocal tracks, and although the contrast between James’ range and that of his backing singers is a bit more stock than what we’ve come to expect in the past, it’s nevertheless a well-rounded song that doesn’t bank on a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles to magnify its natural beauty. The music video doesn’t feature a watered-down mix of the single either; it’s still presented to us in an ultra-clear high definition sound that lets us appreciate all of the little details in each of the players’ parts.
The clean production value boasted by “My Brother’s Shoes” allows us to really zero in on the harmony that’s generated between the piano play and James’ own vocals, and although there’s a lot to be said for the poignant lyrics in this song, its real star is the cohesiveness of its musicality. There’s a point towards the end of the first chorus where James and his piano almost become one singular entity, and it’s difficult for us to discern where his voice ends and the vibrant reverberation of the keys begin. He’s on his A-game in this song, and I’m curious to see if it bleeds into any future recordings he might be cooking up for us in the studio at the moment.
If you’re a fan of Gospel-tinged adult contemporary pop, this song and music video are a pair of inspirational, reflective jams that you’ll likely find as fascinating a listen as I did. I’m very impressed with Hugh James, not only for the fact that he’s penned one of the most effective songs I’ve heard about poverty in a while, but also because of how much he’s grown and developed his sound since the release of his debut album Black and White World. Here we have an artist with a lot of God-given gifts who has committed himself to refining his craftsmanship and skillset without external influences from commercial forces, and he’s sounding better than ever. This is a great song that has a very impactful narrative behind it.
YOU TUBE: https://youtu.be/t6psD9_9p3M
- Amy Thigpen
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