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Grayson Hugh / Press

“In his new album "Back To The Soul" Grayson Hugh opens the party with "Everybody's Hangin' On", followed by the ecstatic "We Were Havin' Fun". Polly Messer's harmonies fit so well with Hugh. After the fun, we look looking forward to new things ("Gettin 'On With My Life") without forgetting the past ("Already In Love With You"). In "It's Got Soul" and also with the title song we get upbeat tributes to the classic soul masters. And Hugh's music really makes you move! "Rock 'n Roll Man" is a gospel blues, and with "We're Gone Again" we feel the irresistible sexual attraction between the parties involved. "Put Your Feet In The Water" and "Gimme Another Answer" features great grooves by Hugh on keys. In the ballad" Thank You Lord" we hear a very emotional Hugh talking with God. "Motorcycle Ridin" closes the album on two wheels. It is music for people who enjoy real music, poetic lyrics, beautiful harmonies, with Hugh’s rockin’ piano and voice that really deliver the goods and the groove”

“A committed soul man for the better part of the past 27 years, Grayson Hugh makes a joyous noise on his latest LP, the aptly dubbed Back To The Soul. While certain songs bring to mind the archival imprint of Otis Redding, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Jerry Butler, Hugh’s original material gives the album a freshness and vitality that avoids any hint that this album is anything other than an absolutely spontaneous celebration. Happily too, Hugh’s arrangements enhance the overall experience. His deft keyboard playing recalls the essence of Booker T. and his crack band emulates the best of the Stax studio sound. The art of procuring pure soul and genuine R&B has seemingly been lost in recent times, given the preponderance of rap and hip hop on the popular music scene. Kudos then to Grayson Hugh for reminding us of not only how it all began, but where it should remain.”

"At his recent concert at Harrison School for the Arts, Grayson Hugh's masterful piano-playing and Polly Messer's precise vocal blending made it a memorable event. With Hugh's foot-stomping melodies and soulful vocals, any live event by Grayson Hugh should be placed at the top of your "must-see" list."

“In 2010, an ambitious 14-song set called "An American Record" heralded the return of Grayson Hugh. And now, five years later, comes "Back To The Soul". This is music of and for people who know what it is to be scarred and scared, who have been knocked down hard a time or two and had to find their way back to their feet. It is music of and for people who can appreciate a good horn section or bass groove, who know how to slide on the grease that oozes when the organ hits a lick just right, who are suckers for a rough-sweet voice singing the truth. This is music of and for those who have a little life behind them – and a whole lot more ahead. It is both realization and reminder that, for all the changes that life takes you through, if you hang with it and fight through it, it will eventually, inevitably, round the corner and bring you back. Back to self. Back to joy. Back to love. Back to, well…you know.”

“Grayson Hugh, like soul music idols Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye, is at his absolute best when wearing his heart on his sleeve and being totally transparent. In fact, Hugh goes way beyond keeping it real – he keeps it honest. With his feet firmly rooted in the soul and blues of Memphis and New Orleans, Hugh has crafted a record that is about as eloquently biographical as a music project can be. The one quality of Hugh’s career that stands out to me, besides his talent, is patience, and "Back to the Soul" is a patient record. Hugh is an expert storyteller who doesn’t rush his delivery. He allows the stories contained in his songs to unwind and that will bring a sense of satisfaction and a deeper appreciation of his struggles and gifts with each listen. This album beautifully completes a more than three decade story of a talented artist who, after too many years away, found his way back to his musical home. Strongly Recommended.”

“Grayson Hugh's new “Back to Soul” is vibrant and alive with a genuine love for soul music. Hugh has spent his whole life struggling with the preconceived idea that white men wouldn’t be fit to sing soul music. “Back To The Soul” is a last, definitive argument to close the pointless discussion “White Men Can’t Be Soul Singers” once and for all. Every song does indeed ooze with pure soul. Indeed, Grayson Hugh doesn’t play hide and seek on "Back To The Soul", he wears his influences on his sleeve. “Everybody’s Hanging On” has the same lyrical message as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”; “We Were Having Fun” has a feel-good vibe that is reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions; “Already In Love With You” is a ballad in the vein of Sam Cooke; and “Rock ‘n Roll Man”, with its call and response backing vocals, would get a nod of approval from Ray Charles. This album does succeed in its mission: celebrating the pure joy of ”

“When I heard the gently grooving, uncommonly radio-friendly "Everybody's Hangin 'On”, I was immediately hooked on Grayson Hugh all over again. Balm for the soul he is! And that was only but the opening salvo..... In a dizzying spin, we blaze onto the Summer dance floors with “We Were Havin 'Fun”; then we hear the quiet, soulful and rocking farewell song “Gettin' On With My Life”. Next is the sultry soul torch song “Already In Love With You”; into the funk with ”It's Got Soul”. We then slide into the gospel-feeling, spicy fable "Rock 'n Roll Man", and the swinging groove of ”We 're Gone Again”. The piano -driven, New Orleans styled "Put Your Feet In the Water" is a masterpiece. The catchy " Gimme Another Answer”, the poignant “Thank You Lord”, the joyous title song “Back To The Soul” and the funny and funky blues “Motorcycle Ridin” moved much too quickly towards the exit. Listening to “Back To The Soul”, the repeat button has been in constant us”

"Grayson Hugh's performance last night at the First Church of Christ (Glastonbury, CT) absolutely mesmerized the crowd with his eclectic mix of his great original songs, played straight from the heart.  His soulful delivery and his keyboard virtuosity combined with Polly Messer's spot-on beautiful harmonies took the audience on a musical ride which paralleled the journey of his long career.  Check him out if you get a chance, he's truly an American treasure!" 

"Grayson Hugh and Polly Messer rode into the Carolinas on Grayson's number one hit, “Goodbye Train”. Their August 30th show at the Spanish Galleon in North Myrtle Beach, SC kept the sold out crowd entertained and intrigued with his soulful songs that tell beautiful stories. It was an honor to have been a part of Grayson Hugh's Carolina Tour and we look forward to having them back in November!!"

"Grayson Hugh is the real deal. Great songs, a classic voice and a passionate performer. Grayson and Polly tore the roof off of The Cutting Room. Can't wait for them to come back and do it again!"

"Grayson Hugh and his harmony singer Polly Messer delivered a wonderful intimate performance that had the audience yelling for more.  The diversity of his music, stage presence, artistry and impeccable storytelling through lyrics and melody made for an exceptional evening."

"I was proud to have Grayson Hugh return to The Lyric after so many years. Our audience loved the show -and having Polly Messer as part of the performance on October 19th made it even more special."

"Grayson Hugh's debut appearance on the Towne Crier's stage was a smashing success. His songs are first-rate, and his powerful & volcanic voice was complimented by the beautiful harmony singing of Polly Messer. I look forward to his return!"

"The Norwood Theatre thoroughly enjoyed a dynamic performance by Grayson Hugh and Polly Messer on Saturday October 26th, 2013. The chemistry between the couple on stage was apparent to the audience as they sang their brilliant harmonies. A well deserved standing ovation completed a perfect evening."

"Grayson Hugh is a class axe, as we say here at Bridge Street Live. From Soundcheck all the way until the meet and greet it was a pleasure working with him. Not to mention how much the crowd loved him and Polly Messer. Dynamite songs, fantastic energy, a true crowd-pleaser!"

"Grayson Hugh did a spectacular show the other night at Infinity Music Hall. Blue-Eyed Soul's Prodigal Son is back - and stronger than ever."

“Once again, Grayson Hugh rocked the Kate leaving our audience begging for more. A lot of people play our piano, but nobody whips it into a frenzy like Grayson.”

"The concert by singer/songwriter Grayson Hugh, with singer Polly Messer, was fantastic. The best of American Music – the perfect mix of blues , soul and country. The evening of September 14th will be remembered as one of the best shows of Fall 2012."

"It was a really lively and fantastic night at Free Blues Club when Grayson Hugh performed on the 16th of September 2012 here in Szczecin, Poland. It was simply amazing. From the sweet, soulful songs with his wife Polly Messer to the excellent rock’n’roll sung with power. Everything of course with brilliant solos on Hammond organ and piano! Awesome music! "

"In a world where music is often a brittle artificiality, the music Hugh makes is hard and strong, convicted and convincing. And true. Most of all, true. It's there in the gritty lament of his voice, in the roughhouse eloquence of his piano, and the atmospheric poetry of his words. He has that thing Sam Cooke and Ray Charles had, that thing you still hear sometimes in Bruce Springsteen, that lonely, train whistle in the dark thing, that yearning, keening thing that gets right to the heart of what it means to be alive, what it means to be a human being. This is "An American Record". Some of us are glad the wait is over at last."

“Hugh's recent personal and artistic achievements inform every track on his new album "An American Record". This overlay of art and heart breathes a gospel air into the irresistibly churchy “Tell Me How You Feel,” paints a stark yet beckoning landscape on “North Ohio,” cranks up the funk in the cocky, horn-stabbed strut and haunting chanted coda of “Swamp Yankee,” hangs a lover’s plea over an elegant and unforgettable chorus hook on “Give Me One Good Reason” … Every track tells its story with a mix of passion, craft and impact that’s rare in our time. In flaunting the discipline and knack for accessibility that distinguished his earlier recordings and compositions, "An American Record" confirms his return as a commercial as well as artistic force. Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story – our story – has to be heard."”

“There is a lot of soul, blues, R&B and funk on this album. Songs like "Give Me One Good Reason" and "Long and Lonely Night" will reintroduce fans to the soulful crooner many of us first met in 1989. "Tell Me How You Feel," is a rollicking blues, soul and gospel tune that shows where the barrelhouse blues meets the Baptist and sanctified church. The song features an extensive blues/jazz solo and ends with an energetic Hugh calling out from the pulpit of love how much he needs his woman's love. The song then takes listener to the church choir stand with band playing some ‘shouting and handclapping music.' "Give Me One Good Reason" revives the lost art of the soul duet with Hugh and his wife, Polly Messer, taking turns leading the song. This is a journey through America that is worth a try. RECOMMENDED.”

“Some 18 years later, after all his radio hits, songs featured in hit films and acclaim as a singer/songwriter, Grayson Hugh has made an amazing comeback with "An American Record", his fourth full length album. And throughout this record, Hugh's wild and masterful piano playing is a veritable cyclone of soul, drawing its energy from such diverse regions as the swampland funk of Professor Longhair, the testifying soul of Ray Charles, with the rhythms of African drumming and American bluegrass thrown in the mix. With all these songs and others Hugh seizes every opportunity to show you that he's not only back, but also a magnificent vocalist and sublime songsmith. Welcome back, man! FOUR STARS!”

“As impressive as Grayson Hugh's 1989 debut album "Blind To Reason" was, "Road To Freedom" represents a quantum leap beyond it. While Hugh's blue-eyed vocals and affinity for gospel-style Hammond organ remain, his music adds a welcome infusion of rock 'n roll punch. "Hideaway", "Forever Yours, Forever Mine" and "When She Comes Walking" bristle with radio-friendly hooks, while Hugh's Rod Stewart-meets-Sam-Cooke vocals on "I Can't Untie You From Me" and the ballad "Walking Through The Fire" are sublime.”

“Here's a CD I'm having trouble keeping out of my player. The long-delayed follow-up to "Blind To Reason", Hugh's killer 1989 blue-eyed soul release, "Road To Freedom", is well worth the wait. Led by Hugh on a Hammond B-3 organ, "Hideaway" sets a swirling tone for the project. His soulful vocals, from the reflective "Soul Cat Girl" to an anti-war masterpiece titled "For The Innocent" are heartfelt, to say the least. The grand finale is a gospel assault on Bob Dylan's "I'll Remember You" that could raise the dead. Any year with a Grayson Hugh release in it can't be all bad.”

“ONE OF BILLBOARD'S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 1992. Grayson Hugh's "Road To Freedom" - Gutsy, melodic, heartland style soul-rock that really fills a hole.”

“Whoever said truthful soul and rock 'n roll was dying has yet to hear singer/songwriter/keyboardist Grayson Hugh's "Road To Freedom". Hugh is a unique but diverting cross between Otis Redding and Hank Williams (Senior). His creation of a tight, four-piece band has a fascinating way of producing a distinct sound very seldom heard. "Road To Freedom" features the song "I'll Remember You", Hugh's arrangement of a Bob Dylan song. It plays over the credits to 1992's hit film "Fried Green Tomatoes". Another of Hugh's songs from the album, "I Can't Untie You From Me", was featured in the runaway hit "Thelma and Louise". His album also features "Road to Freedom" (inspired by Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990), "Soul Cat Girl", "Forever Yours, Forever Mine", "Lost Avenue", "There's A Time" (which he wrote at age sixteen), "Walking Through The Fire" and four other hits - all prime examples of Hugh's powerful singing, soulful songwriting and unequaled keyboarding.”

“One of the summer’s most engaging hits is Grayson Hugh’s recording of Talk It Over. Without sounding like too much of an imitation, the 30-year-old’s performance echoes the style and timbre of Sam Cooke with its winning warmth and sweetness. The song is included on his debut album, Blind To Reason (RCA). “To be honest, Sam Cooke was before my time; I didn’t know about him until a few years ago,” said Mr. Hugh, who was reared in West Hartford, Conn., and who now lives in New York. Growing up, he said, the singer he was most aware of was Marvin Gaye. Unlike the vast majority of pop singers and songwriters, Mr. Hugh has had extensive musical training. He studied with the avant-garde composer Ran Blake. But rock-and-roll, which he had discovered at 14, also attracted him. The most crucial experience leading up to his recording career, however, was a yearlong stint playing the piano in a black gospel church in Hartford 11 years ago.”

“Irony fans, please note: The soul man is a dinosaur in decline, right? Al Green went and got religion, Dennis Edwards is in exile from The Temptations again and, let's face it, Luther Vandross is way too cool to sweat. So who's left to save the genre? Some down-and-dirty black powerhouse who grew up in a suburb of Hell, singing in the local church? Not quite. He's a white guy from a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut. And the first time he was ever in a black church and saw somebody whip out a tambourine, he jumped a mile. Meet Grayson Hugh and the music he likes to call "poetry with an attitude".”

“HOOKER, HUGH DIFFER IN STYLE, BUT NOT SOUL. Memphis Music fans had their choice Sunday night between down-home gritty Delta blues or contemporary blue-eyed soul as venerable legend John Lee Hooker and rising pop star Grayson Hugh performed at the Omni/New Daisy Theater and Peabody Alley (at The Peabody Hotel) respectively. While there were some pronounced differences in approach, technique and sound between Hooker and Hugh, a firm foundation in the black music tradition was the underlying theme linking both performers. Hugh displayed the complete range of his influences. He played a string of rolling chords and flashy phrases on electric keyboard that reflected his gospel and jazz background, while his deliver and singing method were straight out of the R & B/Soul school. Hugh's a natural soul man, right down to his stage mannerisms, which included playing on his knees and behind his back. He did two stinging cover songs, one a sizzling "Bring It On Home To Me".”