|Hugo Fire In The Night||Indie|
Hugo took some time out after the release of his last solo album Time On Earth and then took his own time writing and recording this album, making sure it was everything he wanted it to be. It was released just a week or so ago independently.|
Hugo has a lot of fans within the scene – those that love his Steve Perry style vocals and his pure AOR delivery that many other artists have abandoned.
His past lies with Valentine and Open Skyz, but it's his solo albums that have earnt him the most respect. His self-titled debut is an all time AOR classic – not just with me, but with countless others. The follow-up, Time On Earth was another great example of pure AOR, yet didn't quite have the impact or the power of the debut.
Now Fire In The Night is upon us and I really believe most Hugo fans will be delighted with the result.
It's another strong album of pure AOR bliss. Guitarist Eddie Jelley supplies the Neal Schon factor and Gus Karras supplies the rhythm that binds it together.
I believe this album falls between the two previous albums. This is more guitar driven than Time On Earth and the songs are definitely stronger and the album feels as if it has a more defined purpose.
However, the classic debut remains untouched as far a power and production value. This album was recorded entirely off Hugo's own dime and with that considered, it really does sound good. But there are a few occasions on Fire In The Night when the drum sound or the overall mix doesn't quite work as well as it could.
That said, this album works better than Time On Earth on several levels.
Hugo's vocals are as usual, high class and flawless. What I really like about this album is the harmony and backing vocals, which there are several layers of throughout the entire record.
I also think the songs are some of his best. The quality of the vocals and the mix of the harmonies is excellent and a step forward from Time On Earth.
Track By Track:
It's an uptempo rocker that kicks off the album. Hand In Hand features a more aggressive guitar riff than we would normally credit Hugo with. We're not talking hard rock here, but it's a good uptempo number to get the album going and the chorus is – as expected – smooth and typically AOR.
It's The Love winds back the tempo a little, but is a great follow-up track. This is pure AOR and pure Hugo. Ultra smooth and reminiscent of tracks from the debut, this one features a big harmony filled feel good chorus. A very strong AOR track.
In several places the songs flow directly on from each other without gaps. I'm not sure I like that tactic used throughout the album. It's ok on a couple of tracks, but it might affect the enjoyment of the album for a few.
A brief prelude leads into the title track Fire In The Night. I like the uptempo nature of the song and think the chorus is another winner, but I'm not as warm to the drum sound on this track. It's a little dominating, with room taken up that should have been taken by the guitar.
I'll Learn To Live Without You is the first slower track of the album and is a traditional Hugo style ballad, with a catchy chorus and some fine harmony vocals. Very smooth, very Perry-esque and a winner for fans.
Dawn is another uptempo rocker. This has a great feel and a more even mix. The guitar takes a more dominant role in the track and makes the track work even more so because of it. The chorus is another ultra-smooth example of fine AOR with more layered harmony vocals.
It's ballad time again, but Just So You Know is a little different, being that it's largely acoustic based. And it works very well again, is well placed within the running order and showcases another side of Hugo's vocals.
It's rock time again and Don't Wanna Say Goodbye won't disappoint fans of uptempo AOR. The chorus is a little more laid back than the verse, but remains instantly catchy.
Everytime You Walk Away is another mid-tempo pure Journey style track with a big chorus and a strong feel good factor.
Just To Be With You Tonight is a mid-tempo, semi-stripped back soul influenced pop track. Not a favourite from the album, but it fits the groove and features some solid guitar work.
Here I Am is the slowest and the most haunting track of the album. It's a slow, moody and passionate vocal laid over an atmospheric and almost new age base. A nice laid back track.
It runs directly into Hold Me, which closes the album. The song starts slow with a moody build up to a mid-tempo pace that features a solid chorus.
I think the album could have used another uptempo track amongst the last 3 tracks. To close the album with a rockier track might be my only recommendation there.
The overall package is very nice, with solid artwork, lyrics and track comments from Hugo, which are always appreciated. A very pleasant and enjoyable album featuring some fine performances by all.
include("f-review.p3"); retrieve("hugo-fir",0,1); ?>