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Andy Hughes & The Mighty Few

Songs for Sunday – 2019 (Move Along)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Andy Hughes & The Mighty Few

The second release from the La Crosse, Wisc.-based Andy Hughes and the Mighty Few is an appealing mix of country and folk with touches of bluegrass and alt.-country. Frontman Hughes, who composed all 11 tracks, pays homage to Townes Van Zandt in "Scheme of the Song" ("His voice so dusty and stainless/Hauntingly beautiful") as well as his other major influences John Prine ("Taking everyday normal nobodies/Making monuments out of their hurt") and Johnny Cash ("A voice that cuts like a freight train/Barreling on down the line"). The influence of Van Zandt is also strong in "Witoka Ridgeway," the tale of an outlaw on the run ("Skating cross the prairie/Hopping towns and stooping low").

The traditional country ballads "Stuck in Heaven"("What in the world are you to do/When the one you'd run to hurt you") and "Band Aid" ("A heart on a sleeve is a beautiful thing/Til it's out there in the world to bleed") deal with the complexities of relationships. On "Old Shiny Thing," Hughes expresses reverence for his guitar as a metaphor for the love of a woman ("She offers peace in times of war/She's the whole reason we're fighting for").

Perhaps the strongest tune is the opening "Little Miss America," a biting social commentary in which Hughes seems to blame decline ("Abandoned pools, run-down schools") on a passive citizenry ("Does the stain of our silence taste like goodbye"). Other highlights are the bouncy "Dancin' Down in Nashville" which showcases band mates Rick Kreuziger on a Hawain flavored pedal steel and Joe Gantzer (who also produced) with a nice lead guitar solo, as well as the uptempo bluegrass tune "Tell My Darlin'" featuring guest Josh Rabie on fiddle.

With compelling compositions and pleasant vocals this effort succeeds in revealing Hughes as a promising singer/songwriter in the tradition of his heroes