I haven't seen anyone excel and work so hard to advance their career as Hugh”

— PL

Hugh Phillips

Hugh Phillips

Song Writer

Vocalist, Multi-Instrumentalist


Artist: Hugh Phillips,

Album: It’s Been A Long Time,

Label: String Kitchen Music

Contact: stringkitchen@gmail.com

The buzz around Hugh Phillips’ freshman release is palpable, almost a year in the making he is finally ready. As a lifelong auto technician this says a lot given his midlife turn-around to pursue professional music in 2010. Hugh has a natural talent to song writing where he’s able to sit down and come up with a tune that has a great story with emotion we all know as humans on this earth. This record exemplifies this through his descriptions in songs like Hydrocarbon Heaven and Just a Little More. The feeling of place and friendships is real, since Hugh has had a connection with the western landscape since a boy.

Produced by Stephen Mougin at Dark Shadow Recording in Tennessee, the sound and arrangements are stellar. Mougin is known for work in the bluegrass world, as well as producing plenty of great sounds from reggae to rock and country. In his studio in Goodlettsville, Stephen and Hugh went to work as producer and executive producer respectively, on creating the magic that the record is, through appropriate timings, openness and instrumentation. The solos and interludes on tracks like Jack Devise and Bird Song resonate clearly, invoking a beautiful and well-rounded sound engineered by Mougin.

The record features incredible musicians too. First is Hugh’s vocal with a unique old school vibe. Steve Dawson likened it to Jay Farrar of Son Volt fame after laying down the HI-Ways track. Hugh also played the rhythm guitar on all the tracks adding to the overall feel.

Speaking of Steve Dawson you can hear the timely slide and pedal steel work throughout the album.  He was funny when recording, sometimes he’d just say, “I’m gonna try this” and boom! It was spot on. He sees the creative journey that a song takes from its beginning as a songwriter's idea to a final recorded product, and has to understand the music and be able to know what will open possibilities in it. 

The rhythm section is comprised of the powerhouse duo Chris Brown and Todd Parks of the Sam Bush Band. Chris used a particularly vintage Gretsch drum set for this project. He had listened to the demos and knew right away the sound that was called for. Tea towel toms? Yeah Chris did that on Jack Devise…

Todd Parks of course is the yang to Chris’ yin, appropriately adding just the right note at the right time. Never is his work busy or uncalled for; on this record that rings true in spades. The reggae beat at the end of HI-Ways is right on the money and gets you grooving. What can we say?

On lead guitar were two folks that bring a wealth of experience and talent to the table. First is Corey Congilio, a guitarist versed in all contemporary styles. At one point Hugh was laughing after he added this metal sounding riff that just nails the flavour of Jack Devise.

Next, James Mitchell, rips it up on Steel Driver’s Lament with his fast and accurate tele work. He brings a country sound as well as adding a psychedelic factor in For the Love of Whiskey. James has played on Grammy nominated and #1 albums with artists ranging from Cole Swindell to Willie Nelson. He used a vintage Gretsch hollow body in addition to the telecaster.

Steve Thomas lent his amazing skills to the fiddle and mandolin on the record. He is a versatile musician that has played with many country artists and toured with Sonny Osborne and Barbara Mandrell, among others. This experience brought together a sound that enhances sense of place that Hugh has in his song writing. Steve played a fantastic riff on Rain Dance; “it really surprised me” said Hugh. “I thought we were going to do a more blue grassy approach, and he rips ‘that’ right out of the box!”

Ned Luberecki is featured on Steel Driver’s Lament playing banjo. This track has a great drive and was so fun to play that the whole band just jammed out at the end of the track organically. “We were like wow that was fun!” Said Hugh after the session. Ned is known for work with many artists including his current work with the Becky Buller Band. He was also was named Banjo Player of the Year in 2018 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Rounding out the record is Stephen and his wife Jana along with Alan Bartram on harmony vocals. None of these players are slouches when it comes to vocals. Listen for the sweet 3 part harmonies on Rain Dance and Hydrocarbon Heaven. Alan has played bass most recently with the Del McCoury Band and Travelling McCourys. Stephen Just released his first solo record which also features Jana on vocals.

As a whole the first release from Hugh Phillips is one amazing record and should please audiences worldwide. Much can be credited to his upbringing in music and creative drive to write songs for the folks who live in the western frame of mind.

Available October 31 2020, on all platforms, Airplaydirect.com, and physical copies at www.hughphillipsmusic.com




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