Joseph Hughes: Quizzical, Finesse

Joseph Hughes first wrote to me, proffering his music, in February. I listened, pulled a quizzical face, and put him on the ‘maybe‘ list.

Perhaps more surprising than the fact that ANBAD is organised enough to have to-do lists is that when he got in touch again, ten months later, he sidled straight to the top of my ‘to-do’ list instead.

So what changed? Ah, now that’s the kind of question that lurches drunkenly throughout the ages, and – thankfully – never gets properly answered.

The best word I could dredge from the recesses to fill in the blank was ‘finesse‘ – or maybe it was ‘panache‘. I forget. But whatever happened in those ten months exemplifies why I love brand new music.

Because here’s an artist striving for fulfilment: his and ours. And in Stranger Flowers Yet is a song of organic, pristine newness: the same feeling experienced when unearthing potatoes with a garden fork, or shelling peas, or uncorking wine.

Songs like Stranger Flowers Yet live and die on balance: between the maudlin and the alive, the overblown and the sparse. Joseph Hughes, on this evidence, is more balanced than the Dalai Lama. A lovely end to the year.


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