Clay Hughes is a singer-songwriter, from Kansas City, who has shared the stage with a wide variety of national touring acts such as Chali 2na, ZZ Ward, K.Flay, Ha Ha Tonka, Watsky, Mac Lethal, and more. Hughes prefers his music stripped back- almost always acoustically-dominated musically, introspective and from the heart lyrically. With his studio offering “Atmosphere”, the singer-songwriter has created a track that feels instantly accessible, genuine and poetic. From the opening guitar picking to the final harmony, the song is a collection of moments of beauty and delicacy enfolded in melody.
So what exactly is it that makes “Atmosphere” such an outstanding effort? Well, it’s simple. The song’s main focus is the man, his guitar and the vivid lyrical imagery weaved in-between. This ‘less-is-more’ style is noticeable – and song is certainly all the better for it – though there is more instrumentation than just his acoustic adding an unexpected depth and understated energy to the song.
Perhaps the most important feature of Clay Hughes’ music is the lyrics – heart-wrenchingly honest, starkly powerful and often filled with vivid imagery and moving stories of loss, guilt, love and loneliness. The ambiance on “Atmosphere” sets out to pluck a heart-string, to make one think, to feel.
In this respect, the target is never missed. What Hughes has created here is truly special, setting a benchmark for all other acoustically-oriented music. Between his lyrics and music, it turns out, he’s a jack of all trades and a master of… well, all of them.
“Atmosphere” has a confident, almost-bluesy bounce that, when accompanied by Hughes’ always warm and obliging voice, blends with the folkier, stripped-down approach that sits comfortably somewhere between his energy and his recluse.
The acoustic guitar and piano help the track flow almost voluptuously above the reverb-soaked drums while Hughes’s vocals, more than ever, kind of just drip off the entire thing like honey. It’s amazingly slick.
“Atmosphere” is absolutely commanded by Clay Hughes’ voice – he’s reached the point in which he can sing a beautifully simple melody and make it sound like heaven just by being himself – no vocal theatrics added. His mellow, elegant vocals have never fail to express the spectrum of emotion, and the bluesy and folksy tune fits his singing flawlessly.
While this time he has more instruments backing him up, than just his guitar, they only help make the track sound more whole and complete. It’s by far one of his better, more accessible works so far.