2018 has been a year of collective awakenings on every social front in America and abroad, and music has played a big part in making this burgeoning movement happen. No revolution has come without a cathartic soundtrack to propel its heroes forward, and Hugh James contributes his own verse to the dramatic stage play that is modern times in the new single “My Brother’s Shoes.” “My Brother’s Shoes” is a Gospel crossover song that boldly shines a light on the ongoing crisis of homelessness and its personal connection to James’ life, and for what it lacks in rock n’ roll might it makes up for in blisteringly tangible emotion.
This isn’t Hugh James’ most radio-ready single, but it is his most elegantly patient. There’s no urgency in the main verse, and instead of galloping towards the fever pitch in the chorus James takes his time strutting through the song’s stately sonic waves. The spotlight is transfixed on the piano, which somberly churns out one crushing note after another until it feels like we’re going to be suffocated under the timber of its physicality. Not many pop songs are as cutting as this one is, but under the precise command of James, “My Brother’s Shoes” carefully stops just shy of being overwhelming.
There aren’t a lot of artists who put as much time and energy into hammering out all of the subtle intricacies in their material as Hugh James does here, and we’re able to see the full effects of his studious efforts in this track. “My Brother’s Shoes” is tightly wound and nimbly produced despite its somewhat angular arrangement, and despite the fact that it was meant to strike a chord deep within the souls of listeners it doesn’t utilize any false analogies or silly metaphors to accomplish its goal.
Most of the music videos that I’ve reviewed over the summer have struggled to remain faithful to the songs they were based on, but that isn’t an issue for the video James shot for “My Brother’s Shoes.” It mashes up candid footage with newly recorded material of James and his singers, and the juxtaposition of the two makes for a tear-jerking moment for those who bear witness to its heartbreaking imagery. It’s plaintive and authentic, which isn’t something you come across every day in 2018. If there’s one thing I took away from both the video and the single, it’s that Hugh James didn’t get into the music business for money – he got into it because he’s dedicated to self-expression.
If you’ve been following Hugh James since day one, you’re going to be very happy with what “My Brother’s Shoes” offers audiences of all creeds, colors and backgrounds in its solidly structured melodies. I myself wasn’t very familiar with his work prior to hearing this song and seeing the video for the first time, but what James has put together in this release is satisfying enough for me to take a serious look at his larger body of work. I’ve loved what I’ve found so far, and my gut tells me you probably will too.
YOU TUBE: https://youtu.be/t6psD9_9p3M
Eric Jarvis, posted by Sebastian Cole