Hugh Bob And The Hustle

Hugh Bob And The Hustle

Independent release, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Representing roots rock and humble Americana from small town life in Wisconsin, Hugh Robert Masterson has that certain knack of songwriting that lends itself to hard luck stories and tales from the underdog. On his first effort away from his previous band The Wildbirds, Hugh Bob draws comparisons to the greats like Springsteen, Petty or even more country flavored icons like Alan Jackson, yet he isn't far off from the gritty alt-country.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Ashland County,” a tune about the area Hugh Rob grew up, starts things off with sad pedal steel and warm guitars that sounds like it could have been on a Ryan Adams album eight years ago. That softness goes straight into the honky tonk, hoedown fun of "Blame Me," and it's impossible not to imagine back porch romping to this infectious country rocker. Further on, the band shows other dimensions with the '70s rock of "North Country," complete with harmonicas, the folksy whimsy of "Passenger Side" or the driving rocker with handclaps "This Bar Is A Prison” – a song that could easily catapult the band to fame if given the chance.

The second half is just as superb as the first half. The heartwarming ballad "My Truck Feels Like Driving" brings in some criminally underused female vocals, while the light percussion and rustic shuffling of "Cryin' Out Loud" is an Americana gem. The rowdy "Mess With Me" sounds like it could incite a bar room brawl, and even more interesting, the album ends on the two most lush offerings: "Red, White And Blue Jeans" and the homage to his hometown "Butternut."

Though their town of Butternut only boasts about 300 people, Hugh Bob And The Hustle plays music that, if there were any justice, would be globally embraced. Fans of anything related to modern day Americana such as Mumford, Chuck Ragan, Lucero or The Lumineers would be doing themselves a great favor by investing time with the humble sounds of Hugh Bob And The Hustle.

Rating: A-

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