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Dead Weight
Artist: Jon Hughes
Label:  CDBY
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Duration:  11 tracks, 47:04
Jon Hughes is an alt-folk artist living in Galway, Ireland with roots in the United States Upper Midwest. There, as a teenager, he honed his blend of acoustic folk rock performing in local coffee houses where his first two full length albums took flight. Following college in Ireland, he made his home in Galway while continuing to refine his musical style. Hughes first two full length recordings were explorations into his poetic nature coupled with acoustic instrumentation, heavy on eclectic mandolin play by Hughes. The next two full length albums have shown his exploration into electric music without losing his poetic lyrics and signature melodies. Now, with Hughes fifth full length offering he has ‘tamed’ his electric probing while incorporating the acoustic nature of his music and poetic gift. This offering marks a maturity making Hughes’ art available to a much wider audience.
Hughes’ measured count of this album’s first offering leads listeners into his dream-like poetic lyrics and musical accompaniment, a staple of Jon Hughes music. Speaking more to our world and its blended culture than to a specific topic or feeling, Hughes music message is open to our interpretation, as all good works of art should be. The opener, “The Tree”, begins with soft, simple vocals and sultry sax giving way to chaotic electric climax followed by the settling instrumental “The Original Theme’. Reminiscent of earlier recordings’ “Weightless (The Race)” has an effortlessly bouncing electric melody with emphatic breaks, very much a signature of the Hughes sound.
The dance that is the heart of his rollicking sound is evident in “Gretta in Rose” showing the playful coupling of lyric and melody. The natural quality of Hughes’ voice and writing style brings the listener to the Irish highlands, nowhere is this more evident than in the song “Undoing Time”. “Time Weighed” is an acoustic ballad with vocals and guitar effortlessly rising and falling through a musical scale. A slow piece with great poetic lyric is found in “Gretta’s Body” whose lyrics echo a collective sigh with ‘All I want now is to get back somehow, All I could do is come back to you, Oh my Lord’.   The song continues to build from beginning to end with solid percussion and guitar, occasional bells, and well placed strings waning to a sound like an ambulance creating a crescendo with guitar and voice fully impacting the emotion of the song.  Lastly, “December 1991” settles the listener back with a quiet melodic journey all its own.
There is something obvious in the spirit of Hughes’ music which puts the listener in a unique place, a quiet place to fully understand his poetry and an energized place of motivation caused by inspiring melody. A place few artists have the ability to create. This is the musical adventure that is _Dead Weight_.
Scott S Mertens
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