Every now and then, there is a moment on a TV show which is brought to life by a piece of music. This morning, I was watching the first episode of a new TV show called 'The Blacklist' and without giving any spoilers, the end moments of the show where brought to life by a blues grass cover of "99 Problems" which I found was done by a musician called Hugo (Christian name Levy). Born in London UK, based in New York, USA and signed to Roc Nation (home to Jay Z, Beyonce and others) and related to Thailand royalty. This man is living a charmed life it may seem, but is it deserved?
Well, first thing I have to say that the production job by Dave McCracken is fantastic. I usually use talking about the production to hide the fact I'm about to give an album a kicking, but this is not the case here. It is just the most immediate thing that is going on here. Is feels very roomy and warm all the way through this album; and it also helps that the musicians backing Hugo here are also on top of their game as well. The cover of "99 Problems" is an awesome cover which is the second tack on the album after the title track of the album which opens with an almost gospel-esque/hip hop opening. It works, it really should be it does, then they get the awesome cover out of the way (it does everything I want with a cover - it changes the song) and the rest of the album is waiting our listening.
Coming after this is the song "Bread & Butter" which was used to great effect in the TV show "Castle"; and that seems to be what I like and dislike about this album. Every song from there on in sounds like it could be a TV moment, and it does distract a little bit. However, this is a small dislike as the overall charm of this album with tracks like "Hopelessly Stoned" (the album's best track) and "Hurt Makes It Beautiful". Yes it ends a bit poor, but the last two tracks ("Wake Alone" and "Just A Shred") being filler does not make this a bad album. As an opening release it is well produced and just short of good for me, but it is there is enough here to make it interesting and I await his next release with anticipation. The mark might seem harsh, but it is not meant that way; it is worth checking and one day I feel this guy will release a truly awesome album.
6.75 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
There is no official Hugo website (even though he is signed for Roc Nation!!!!) but here is a link to his Facebook
You can listen to the album on Spotify here