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Mr Hudson and the Library - A Tale of Two Cities

  by Sarah Rowland

published: 8 / 5 / 2007

Mr Hudson and the Library - A Tale of Two Cities
Label: Universal Music
Format: CD


Outstanding debut album from rising and offbeat new group Mr Hudson and the Library which takes 1940's influences and gives them a unique contemporary twist

Mr Hudson and the Library are Mr Hudson (vocals, occasional guitar) ; Maps Huxley ( bass guitar) ; Wilkie Wilkinson (electric drums) ; Joy Joseph (steel-pan, vocals) and Torville Jones (piano). They have recently released their debut album and have managed to attract a lot of attention for a fairly unknown band. 'A Tale of Two Cities' starts with a cover of 'On The Street Where You Live'. Brilliantly done it captures the theatrics of the original while adding its own contemporary twist with an electronic drum beat and prominent soulful lyrics. It glides smoothly into track two, 'Brave The Cold', which uses lounge piano of the 1940's with a deep base riff led by Mr Hudson’s crystal vocal style. The song builds to a Franz Ferdinand influenced stamping beat before clearing in to a sweeping vocal medley backed by piano. 'Too Late, Too Late' is the first single from the album and a favourite with radio stations. A simple brass beat dispels subtly into the chorus, which has a reggae feel to it as well as fitting in with the indie rock dominating the airwaves. Again Mr Hudson’s lyrics dominate the song with a tinny live sound to the recording that gives the album an extra edge and an originality. 'Everything Happens' puts neon lights around the style of Mr Hudson for all to see. Taking influences from Rat Pack crooners like Sinatra, which sweep through the entire album, the band delivers their own twist on this influence bringing it right up to date. With lines such as: "I’ve emailed and phoned/ sent a text message or two/you told me to piss off/for that respect is due", the resulting sound is fresh and creamy. 'Cover Girl' increases the electronic drum beats and adds an acoustic guitar riff, but still maintains the caramel vocals delivering a gentle love song that makes even the line, "you’ll never be a cover girl/just face the facts/ your face isn’t right", seem romantic. '2 x 2' lets the acoustic guitar take a lead role and with soft piano chords tiptoeing across the chorus the result is a laid back summer tune perfect for long hot days with friends in beer gardens. 'Bread + Roses' carries on the themes of the other songs and is another laid back tune but one with a bit of a bounce. 'Ask The DJ' brings back a pounding beat and is a quirky song about music and books. Enough said really, it’s a stand out track. 'One Specific Thing' brings back the reggae influence with a steel drum rhythm and introduces vocals by Joy Joseph reminiscent of a young Joni Mitchell. 'Ghosts' is again heavy on 1940s piano but the vocals are less Rat Pack than other songs and actually more reminiscent of Coldplay. This is also true for 'Upon The Heath' which brings in backing vocals from Joseph and adds some synth. The piano style of Mr Hudson is unique for the present musical climate. Although clearly influenced by classic 1940's tunes the band manage to add such a tangy twist of their own they escape the predictable use of this, as heard from various boy bands wanting to prove they can sing. Coupled with vocals full of character and edgy lyrics that don’t try to hard, you’ve got something that stands out from the crowd. I think the mention of a reggae influence also needs more explanation. The album is only lightly sprinkled with reggae beats and although it stands out it works seamlessly. The best way I can explain this is using the example of a sprinkle of salt in chocolate cake. It sounds like a printing mistake in the recipe but actually it brings out the sweetness.

Track Listing:-
1 On The Street Where You Live
2 Take Us Somewhere New
3 Too Late, Too Late
4 Everything Happens To Me
5 Cover Girl
6 2x2
7 Bread + Roses
8 Ask The DJ
9 Picture Of You
10 One Specific Thing
11 Ghosts
12 Upon The Heath

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