Philadelphia, since its humble beginnings, has been one of America’s greatest and most immaculately diverse music scenes; one that we can always count on to find something fresh and original to help forge the rich identity that is western pop music for the entire world to enjoy. One of Philly’s finest sons and most gifted vocalists, Hughie Mac, is back and ready to dish out some more pure audio gold with the long awaited third instalment of his Hughie Mac Sings Some Great Songs series. I must say, although Hughie Mac Sings Some Great Songs Part 1 as well as Part 2 were great offerings that showed us how capable and virtuous Hughie Mac is as a singer, Hughie Mac Sings Some Great Songs Part 3 has got to be his very best work yet, showcasing his glowing highs and the timber of his brooding lows in a excellently engineered anthology record for the ages.
How do you capture what it feels like to fall in love with someone for the very first time in some simple words and music? It sounds impossible for most of us to ever dream of doing ourselves, but back in the gilded age of early jazz and swing recording in the late 1930’s and 40’s, there were a handful of artists who managed to come pretty close to nailing it. Hughie Mac is aesthetically a direct descendant of these musical pioneers, and much like them and the boppers of the 50’s, he lets the strut and bravado of his natural vocal range do all of the talking for him when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is. And he’s an ace. For the bulk of listening to this album, its hypnotic arrangements and song selection transport us to a different place, like we’re walking right beside Mac through some black and white, noir like motion picture, where he’s narrating all of the motions and actions of the intriguing characters around us. He’s a storyteller, and even if this isn’t the first time that we’ve heard some of these stories, it’s definitely the first time that we’ve experienced them through this cultured, refined lens that Mac chooses to employ here.
Great albums make us forget all of the cares and worries that we’re dragging behind us in our lives, and in that respect, Hughie Mac Sings Some Great Songs Part 3 does everything that a great vocal pop album should do. But what’s more, its dreamy production values and the quality of its lead singer’s earnest and heartfelt performance are what really make this record a must listen for anyone who considers themselves a true swing enthusiast. I’m curious to see how Mac follows up this latest release and whether or not he chooses to cover music that perhaps goes in a slightly different direction in the future. He’s an authentic talent, and I have a gut feeling that no matter what sort of work he sets his mind to crafting, it’s going to come out pretty good. But then again, that comes with being a genuinely organic working class musician.