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Album Review: Hugo Race - No But It's True

24 August 2012 | 1:45 pm | Brendan Telford

Hugo Race does what he wants

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Hugo Race does what he wants. In his three decades in the music realm, he's traversed blues, rock, electronica and film scores. Nevertheless, a plaintive album of covers anchored by the notion of love may catch people off guard, especially as No But It's True is Race's first “official” solo record. Here he explores what makes a love song stand the test of time, to the point where each track turns a light back on itself, baring its soul in the process – and Race's intentions become clear.

The album opens with No Regrets, a track made famous by the Walker Brothers, and Race's gravelly voice echoes over his acoustic guitar, his nostalgic approach a godsend. This works particularly well on tracks such as Leon Russell's Song For You and the iconic Cry Me A River. The standout is Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire, the production dissolved so that the lyrics are laid bare – that love can throw one to the edge of the abyss, trapped within its reckless whims. His bluesy grind on the inimitable Barry White classic Never Ever Gonna Give You Up lends the song a feverish urgency that the big man could never have imagined possible.

The closer is the traditional ballad Silent Night, initially a strange late inclusion until it becomes clear – love is in everything. Whether it be love as an aphrodisiac, a road to ruin or a road to redemption, Race makes it inherent in No But It's True that love is the true constant in the world, and as he murmurs in the Lee Hazelwood classic, “It's gonna be all right/Wait and see.”