Wildflower / Cleopatra 2016
Venerable country songwriter digs down to his burning core and, with Judy Blue Eyes guesting, debuts in a long playing format.
Hugh Prestwood has been marrying words to music for nigh on four decades now, his creations shining on albums by the likes of Alison Krauss and Randy Travis, although you can hardly tell this from the artist’s first full-fledged record. Its songs may smell of rich emotional experience yet they’re dry in delivery – deliberately so, of course; otherwise, tears are bound to be cried when tunes such as “Another Way To Feel Alive” begin to flow where drama is hidden under a parched, patinated arrangement. There are ballads dedicated to dearly departed, Prestwood playing a sad game in “The Suit” by suggesting a happier event but not trying to fool the listener into believing him, and there are genuinely jollier stories Hugh’s hinting at in acoustic opener “So Sweet Sixteen” and a few other tracks, including the upbeat title one.
Mostly, still, tragedy hangs over the characters you’ll encounter here, in “Laura Nadine” or “Charlie” that Judy Collins – whose appropriation of “Hard Time for Lovers” turned Prestwood into hitmaker back in 1978 – graces with her crystalline presence. Their voices also get twined in “Untie These Lines” on quite a cinematic background, but “So Are We” is a perfect expression, enhanced with pop keyboards figure, of solitude. Still, it’s a piano pattern on “Caroline Season” and the exquisite, almost baroque “September Song” that are the album’s best moments, while Prescott’s own take on “The Song Remembers When” – which brought Hugh an Emmy in 1994 once Trisha Yearwood had cut this piece – sounds like a solid testament to his talent. So if “I Used To Be The Real Me” is a bit tentative in presenting the artist, there should be brighter records in his pipeline.