Bruce Hughes, Late Night Polaroids…
On Late Night Polaroids, the renowned bassist Bruce Hughes plays frontman on his new release, giving us smart, playful pop tunes with serious groove.
Bruce Hughes has worked steadily since the 80s, putting down the Austin sound. Creating and collaborating with high-caliber bands both in front of the mic and behind the board, he’s lent his aptly named Bass of Love and his acutely attuned musical ear to acts such as Bob Schneider, Poi Dog Pondering, Jason Mraz’s huge 2009 world tour, and Fastball, to name just a few.
Locally born and bred, Hughes has been voted the Austin Music Awards “Best Bass Player” more than once, and seems to be perpetually on the top ten list. But if Hughes is known primarily as a bass player, it’s only because he has reached the top of the heap in that category and stayed there for over a decade.
“Looking for a musician to nominate as Best Bassist? How about Bruce Hughes?” the Austin Chronicle’s Margaret Moser suggested. “Hughes handpicks his projects with love and caution.”
Throughout his solo career, Bruce’s core sound has remained unique and familiar. But nothing ever stays the same, and now with the release of his latest record Late Night Polaroids, out 1/21/22, one of the most original and thought-provoking musicians around brings us just what we need right now—humor and optimism with a critical eye. Full of cryptic poetry and musical manna, we bear witness to the continued evolution of Bruce Hughes.
“The songs on Late Night Polaroids are poppier, deeper, and closer to my heart than anything I’ve put out yet,” says Hughes. “I really want people to move and be moved.”
The opening track of the record is “Sweet Children,” which wastes no time inviting us to get up off the couch and shake it. And after all the time we’ve spent sitting on that couch over the last year and a half, we could use the inspiration to get up onto our feet. As the song says, maybe now, as we slowly emerge into a post-Pandemic world, we’ve “got what it takes to make it better than it ever was before.”
“This song is a postcard to the Austin hippie in all of us,” says Hughes, “to the free-spirited, sparkly-eyed kids out after dark.” Dane Farnsworth (Brothers Osborne, Robert Randolph) works his magic here on the B3 and clavinet, while JJ Johnson (Gary Clark Jr.) and Hughes crank down the rhythm section.
Early praise for the album came from Laura Palmer of WNRM The Root Radio. “Bruce has a clever turn of phrase which bends from lighthearted to heartbreaking. If music is your medicine then this album is the booster you need!”
“My musical informative influences were the entirety of 70s radio, and everything imported to Austin’s indie record stores in the 80s,” says Hughes, “but I definitely gravitated toward the soul side.” Hughes also credits the richness of Austin’s musical environment to his creative cultivation and growth. “I’ve never found anywhere else as confluent in musical language.”
Hughes’s vast range and eclectic tastes are as apparent as ever, and he makes no apologies for it. “I don’t really know how to stay in my lane. I don’t even know where my lane is! Everything is fair game,” he says, when it comes to making music. Which may be why – despite his endless catalogue of catchy, danceable crowd-pleasers – he half expects his music to be looked at as an odd, out-of-place character, “because that’s what I am,” he admits with a laugh.
“This thing I love to do, writing, recording and performing… it’s not always timely or perfect,” Hughes muses, “it’s often more like catching fireflies. Sometimes you can only get so close before they disappear.” But with Late Night Polaroids, Hughes has captured the magic, and he holds it out to us like a jar full of pulsing pixie lights to admire.
For more information, visit online at brucehughes.com