Brandon Hughes is hungry. Three years after migrating west to join the creative movement brewing in Austin, Hughes has refined his blues-driven sound and is prepared to break out of the pack as a fully-fledged pop artist in his own right with his newest single “Wolf”.
“Wolf” roars into existence with a bluesy guitar progression punctuated by some thumping drum work, transitioning seamlessly into an effortlessly impressive demonstration of Brandon’s finger-plucking prowess. It is clear that his musical gift lies first and foremost in a remarkable ability to convey emotion through his six steel strings, a product of his training in the heritage of the Blues. The galvanic propulsion of his guitar-playing contrasts intriguingly against the smoothness of his sultry voice. The result is an almost eerie aura to the song that matches its lustful lyrics.
Unfortunately, Brandon’s lyrics in “Wolf” don’t live up to the standard set by his music or his obvious talent for uniting the emotion of blues with pop sensibilities. The track relies heavily on the somewhat uninspired cliche of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, and Brandon Hughes never manages to fully convince with his attempts at transforming the timeless tale into a story of eroticism. Though the bridge of “So please believe in your fantasies” is delivered in a promising, husky falsetto, the chorus fails to impress…
“Let me eat you whole/THe wolf is at your door/and what a night in store/you came right back for more”
Some neatly layered growling vocals underline these words, lending it an ominous air that once again ties nicely into the tone of the song, but the lycanthropic lyrics lack inspiration. His delivery is not unpleasant, but it (like the lyrics) give the air of a man who is trying to restrain himself in order to play into what he expects the industry to like. The result is unmemorable. The liveliness of the track picks up in its last 30 seconds as Hughes emerges from his comfortable shell to throw some dramatic variety at is listeners, but it is too little too late.
“Wolf” showcases Brandon’s considerable talents, but also indicates certain weaknesses in his skill-set. While I respect his desire to push himself into a new sonic arena, I believe that his efforts to make his music more accessible became something of a detriment to him. Having unearthed a video of him performing this same track in his living room at home, I found myself immensely more impressed by the song in a raw, acoustic form, and disappointed by his decision to translate it into a blander, over-produced pop song. The rawness that shone so brightly in live performance was dimmed by the polish of studio recording, which masked both his tremendous talents on the guitar and buried the genuine emotion of his voice that was apparent even despite some slightly trite lyrics.
Photo Credit: Brandon Hughes