Anglia Ruskin has seen its fair share of musical talent pass through the halls over the years, and off the back of his debut EP, Reece Hughes may be another contender to be added to ‘that’ list.
Now graduated and based in Bristol, the four tracks that make up ‘Seasons’, showcase some excellent, original song writing that is not afraid to shy away from populist sensibilities; instead reaching for something more genuinely emotional than the wet, lovelorn meanderings of the current crop of en-vogue singer-songwriters. Here we have an EP that reaches for expansive soundscapes and harmony, while at the same time feeling claustrophobic and introspective (a tough balance to try and strike) but one that is largely successful here.
The Voice is a bold opener, clocking in at nearly nine minutes long and featuring a number of changes in style, and movement. While not all of these sections feel like they quite fit together as a whole, this track shines through with ‘Ben Howard-esque’ layering. The guitars and harmonies really try to build an emotionally-tense atmosphere that reflects the changing of moods, and thoughts in the lyrics.
It’s a tricky listen, thinking back to the emotional state that the lyrics evoke, this certainly cannot be called ‘catchy’, but comes together into a mostly-coherent whole with very satisfying harmonies and melodies. ‘Perspective’, on the other hand, is a comparatively short and simple affair, retaining the emotional core at the heart of Reece’s song writing, by adding flourishes of piano that act as a pretty melodic antidote to The Voice’s more progressive aspects.
The second half of the EP channels the feel of artists such as Liam Frost in Reece’s ability to write songs that people can relate to. ‘New Path of Discovery’ is arguably the simplest song on the EP, relaying on piano and lush swells of strings, while the vocals don’t quite hit the heady heights of the backing here, it’s the breaks and cracks in Reece’s voice that amplify the intensity. Where often sincerity is lost in over-production, here he pours out every syllable and the song is far better for it.
‘Getting Somewhere Now’, closes the EP on a more optimistic note, providing some closure to the more bleak lyrical material and ending the EP on a more hopeful tone. Rounding out the themes of isolation and depression that permeate much of the lyrics on this EP, some sense of balance and acceptance is found here – without ever cheapening the complex themes that underline the EP.
Reece Hughes has created an earnest debut EP, that shows ambition and a serious personal approach to his songs, in which there is much to be admired. There are rough edges in production, structure and vocals here to be sure, but these are largely inconsequential in a debut EP that shows a great deal of promise, and a lot of heart.
Words from Sandy Mill