Brad Hudson’s Next New Heartbreak is his first solo release, and the results here would indicate that this debut is not any too soon. Hudson sings lead and harmony on all but one vocal cut and plays resonator guitar, and he does an excellent job on both. His lead vocals are the highpoint of this very fine CD, one which features an impressive lineup with Steve Dilling on banjo and harmony vocals, Skip Cherryholmes on guitar and harmony vocals, Jason Moore on upright bass, and Aaron Ramsey on mandolin and guitar.
Hudson’s singing is powerful yet smooth, with the kind of compelling expressive quality one would hear in Russell Moore or the late James King. Whether it’s Daniel Salyer’s barn-burning “Rambler’s Song” featuring guest Ron Stewart on banjo and fiddle, Loretta Lynn’s soulful “World Of Forgotten People,” or singing to Dolly Parton’s stirring harmony on her fine “Appalachian Memories,” it seems Brad Hudson can do it all. Simply put, this is the best “new” voice I’ve heard in bluegrass for quite some time.
There is a nice selection of material with plenty of variety. (Though one could argue that as good as the vocals and instrumental work are here, almost anything would sound good.) Additional cuts include two from Clyde Mattock, the instrumental “Hugging The Hound” and “I Wonder What You See In Your Dreams.” Jeff and Sheri Easter contribute vocals on “Beulah Land” (although the lead sounds a lot like Hudson). And Hudson does a very nice job on “Smoky Mountain Strong,” co-written with Mark Brinkman in honor of those who fought the fires in Sevier County, Tenn., in 2016. Tom Paxton’s “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound” gets an excellent bluegrass treatment, and the title-cut is a great new “broken heart” tune in a genre that can’t seem to ever get enough.
The support for the vocals is uniformly excellent throughout. Harmonies by Dilling and Cherryholmes are topnotch. The instrumental work is first-rate and, in particular, Hudson’s resonator guitar work is very tasteful, reminiscent of Mike Auldridge and Jerry Douglas. Besides having a voice that will be the envy of everyone within earshot, Hudson appears to have an acute sense of how this music should fit together that would seem to take decades of experience to develop. And though they are not credited, whoever did the mix and master (Skip Cherryholmes engineered) did an exceptional job—the sound is perfectly balanced and clear throughout.
This is an excellent release. Fine songs, great instrumental work and harmonies, and lead vocals that are unsurpassed. Highly recommended. (Pinecastle Records, 2514 River Rd., Ste. 105, Piedmont, SC 29673, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)AW