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Gary Hughes - Waterside

Gary Hughes
by Mike McMahan at 16 May 2021, 12:29 AM

Gary Hughes is an English Melodic Hard Rock vocalist, known for both his solo work, and as the long-time front man for the band TEN. This release, titled “Waterside”, marks his first solo effort in fourteen years, and is the long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s well received “Veritas”. In between his solo work, and writing and recording with TEN, he has also, through the years, served as a producer (Bob Catley’s first three solo records, amongst others) and written and released a two album Rock Opera, based around the King Arthur legend, titled “Once And Future King”; which featured the talents of Doogie WhiteBob Catley and Danny Vaughn, as well as many others.

I went into this review somewhat unfamiliar with Gary’s work. I had heard, and liked, some of the output of TEN; but was uneducated to the depth of his abilities as a writer, producer and solo artist. In doing some research for the review, I found quite a few nicely turned releases. His ability as a vocalist has shone for years; but on “Waterside”, I felt he was a bit too reserved, never truly cutting loose with his range. For this reason, the album seems somewhat bland and “vanilla” to me. The musicianship involved is otherwise fantastic, across the board; but this release falls just a tad short.

The album opener, “All At Once It Feels Like I Believe”, is a great example of my exact problem with the record. Some beautiful piano work starts us out and mixes wonderfully with Gary’s vocal through the first verse. A harmony vocal ensues very effectively on the first bridge, and as the other instrumentation takes hold in the chorus, everything clicks…except the lead vocal, which maintains an almost monotonous feel. It almost seems Hughes is just hesitant, and perhaps not convinced with his lyric. It effectively ruined for me what should have been a gorgeous song.

The title cut, “Waterside”, breaks free of that pattern, to an extent. The song opens with a sweet guitar riff, and the song almost falls into a modern “Country” feel. A fantastic guitar solo is featured midway through and lends a hand. This song was easily my favorite from this release, which I truly wanted to like more than I ever will.

There are several moments on “Waterside” where I was quite impressed, particularly when it came to the musical presentation. The production work, which is indicative of all things Frontiers, is amazing. My issue remains with the vocal, and the knowledge that Gary Hughes is so much more.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 10

3 Star Rating

1. All At Once It Feels Like I Believe
2. Electra Glide
3. Lay Down
4. The Runaway Damned
5. Screaming In The Half Light
6. Waterside
7. Video Show
8. Save My Soul
9. Seduce Me
10. When Love Is Done
Gary Hughes – Vocals and Guitar
Daniel Treece-Birch – Drums and Keyboards
Dann Rosingana – Guitar
David Rosingana – Bass
Karen Fell – Backing Vocals
Scott Hughes – Lead and Backing Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Music srl


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Edited 11 June 2023

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