LR05 Music for Grown Ups : Chiaroscuro
Timeless, disturbing, postmodern
Many songwriters style themselves as artists. Music for grown ups’ frontman John Hughes is the genuine article. He doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve — he rips yours out and wears that.
At times epic in proportion (the majestic ‘Belladonna’ or the brooding ‘Exhibition’), at times intimate (the strangely erotic ‘Dark Star’), but never less than heartbreaking, this third LP showcases Hughes’s most confident and mature songwriting so far.
The trademark acoustic guitar is still present, but Jane Burke’s edgy ‘cellos are pulled assertively to the fore throughout. Elsewhere, a driving pump organ or a Fender Rhodes underpins searing washes of feedback and distortion, held in check by the steady rhythm section of Thomä and Hirsch. Hughes’s reproachful voice threatens to fall apart with hurt at any moment, as notes from a forgotten piano tumble over Nancy Landzo’s listless whisper or the troubling strains of an ancient lullaby …
Timeless, disturbing, postmodern, Chiaroscuro is dust from the crumbling columns of a broken empire. A classic.