12 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Hugo’s debut successfully fuses R&B with the timeless tones of Southern gospel and the kind of ‘60s soul that had sharply dressed mods grooving in underground clubs of the singer/songwriter’s London home. The title-track opens with a timelessly produced beat pounding under contagious grooves, subtle wah-wah guitar and Hugo’s comfortable tenor crooning in a demure cool. His amazing cover of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” turns the tune into a boot-stomping, banjo-dappled, tambourine-shaking, Southern spiritual that sounds more rooted in the bluesy foundation of the 1969 song “Oh Well” from Fleetwood Mac (back when guitar luminary Peter Green fronted the band). “Bread & Butter” recalls a time in the mid- to late ‘90s when Beck was braiding Delta blues with dorm-room funk, while the near anthemic “Hopelessly Stoned” bestows a Moog-trimmed hymn to the jam band population. “Hurt Makes It Beautiful” builds on the Jamiroquai template to deliver a soulful ballad bolstered by buoyant beats and soaring inflections before the catchy “Mekong River Delta” turns pre-millennial post-modern pop into something free from the trappings of genre classification.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Hugo’s debut successfully fuses R&B with the timeless tones of Southern gospel and the kind of ‘60s soul that had sharply dressed mods grooving in underground clubs of the singer/songwriter’s London home. The title-track opens with a timelessly produced beat pounding under contagious grooves, subtle wah-wah guitar and Hugo’s comfortable tenor crooning in a demure cool. His amazing cover of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” turns the tune into a boot-stomping, banjo-dappled, tambourine-shaking, Southern spiritual that sounds more rooted in the bluesy foundation of the 1969 song “Oh Well” from Fleetwood Mac (back when guitar luminary Peter Green fronted the band). “Bread & Butter” recalls a time in the mid- to late ‘90s when Beck was braiding Delta blues with dorm-room funk, while the near anthemic “Hopelessly Stoned” bestows a Moog-trimmed hymn to the jam band population. “Hurt Makes It Beautiful” builds on the Jamiroquai template to deliver a soulful ballad bolstered by buoyant beats and soaring inflections before the catchy “Mekong River Delta” turns pre-millennial post-modern pop into something free from the trappings of genre classification.

TITLE TIME
2:49
2:17
2:59
3:05
3:56
3:14
3:10
4:11
3:47
3:09
3:35
3:13

About Hugo

Although born in England, singer/songwriter Hugo Chakrabongse spent most of his childhood and early adulthood in Thailand, where he acted in several Thai soap operas before forming his first band, Siplor. The band’s early performances -- a mix of original tunes, Jefferson Airplane covers, and the theme song to one of Hugo’s soaps -- were dodgy at best, but Siplor eventually rose to the top of Thailand’s rock scene, known equally for their psychedelic country-rock sound and outspoken, pro-democracy politics. After releasing four albums with the group, Hugo moved to London in search of a solo career.

Now operating under his forename, he co-wrote the song “Disappear” for Beyoncé’s best-selling 2008 album, I Am...Sasha Fierce, and earned a spot on her husband’s record label as a result. Hugo then paid tribute to Roc Nation founder Jay-Z by recording a thumping, folksy cover of “99 Problems,” which was featured in the 2010 film No Strings Attached. One year later, Old Tyme Religion officially introduced Hugo to the Western world with a mix of pop, rock, and soul. ~ Andrew Leahey

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