Glenn Hughes. The voice of rock. Singer for Black Country Communion. Trapeze vocalist. The man at least partly responsible for the titanic Hughes/Thrall. Stevie Wonder’s fave white throatsmith. And of course, a man who at one time or another has got behind the mic for versions of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Purveyor of thirteen solo albums.
Not a bad little CV, especially in a time when age is starting to wither musicians of Glenn Hughes’ vintage, rendering many of them shadows of their former selves, capable barely of trotting out their greatest hits on Summer Enormodome tours for the ever-hapless faithful; Remarkably, despite having exactly the same – and perhaps even more voracious – appetites as those tottering contemporaries, Hughes has never sounded better than on his first solo outing in eight years.
Confident enough in his abilities to guts it out against an all guns blazing backing band – this is comfortably the most sustainedly heavy album he’s put out in a long, long time – Hughes delivers an absolutely bravura performance on Resonate that’ll have those contemporaries of his looking on slack jawed as he eats up the studio over the course of eleven slabs of high-octane, bluesy heavy rock.
Opening, suitably enough, with a track entitled simple Heavy, Resonate is a thunderous showcase of Hughes’ vocal, instrumental and songwriting skills that really does wipe the floor with the opposition. My Town, Flow and Let it Shine all continue the assault on the senses opened up by Heavy, and it isn’t til fifth track Steady that the pace is slackened a little. Steady is an immense, Hammond-and-Moog-soaked extravaganza that features Hughes best singing and bass playing on the album, but that really is a relative term when you step back and realise that he absolutely destroys every song on the album. Not so keen on the heavy end of the spectrum? Then take the time to wallow in the splendid blues of When I Fall, or the funky playfulness of Landmines. Whatever your bag, Glenn owns it. And then some.
How a man with such a soulful voice manages to flourish in such unforgivingly riff-heavy environments is anyone’s guess, but Hughes positively thrives in the noise he and his cohorts make here, the result being one of the most hands-down enjoyable, vibrant and joyous records you’ll hear all year.
Co-producing guitarist Søren Andersen and keyboard player Lachy Doley are due a lot of credit for this record’s success, too, it has to be said; Both men work overtime to create the sonic canvas over which Hughes lavishes his blue-eyed masterpieces, so much so that a lot of the time you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to long-lost tapes of a collaboration between Hughes, Tony Iommi and Jon Lord – Resonate really is an album of the magnitude that sort of team up might suggest.
Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith adds drums to Heavy and album closer Long Time Gone but, good though he undoubtedly is, there’s not a lot he can do to improve on what’s going on around him.
Which is, in four words, a hard rock masterclass.