Following a trip to the Carolinas, Grayson Hugh(artist bio) recently landed at Charleston Sound, to record his latest album “Back To The Soul.” Hugh, wife Polly Messer(harmony singer) and band worked with Jeff Hodges and Trevor Marron tracking the album over a period of two weeks. This is Grayson Hughs first album release in four years. After many hits from previous years, the album is an exciting addition for Hughs fans. We sat down with Hugh to discuss the new album, and here is what he had to say.
“I had the title “Back To The Soul” before all the songs were written, but I knew I wanted the record to be a return to my Southern Soul roots. Originally I had planned to record it at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, using some of the well-known session musicians there that have played on many classic soul records. But after doing some shows in the Summer of 2014 with a band called Jim Quick & Coastline, I was so impressed with these musicians that I asked them if they’d like to record “Back To The Soul” with me. Since the band is based in northeatern coastal South Carolina, I started searching for a great studio in the Palmetto State. I wanted to track my songs with a really good acoustic grand piano, and I found the studio I needed: Charleston Sound, located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It also had a Hammond C3 organ, my other main instrument.
The lineup for “Back To The Soul” was: Me (lead & harmony vocals, piano, Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, Fender Rhodes Piano, percussion), Casey Meyer (guitar), Albert Rogers (bass), Camron Dudley (drums), Glen Tippett (saxophones). My wife Polly Messer sang the harmony vocals. Albert Rogers played bass with me when I lived in North Carolina in the 90s; he also played with Levon Helm in the 2000s.
I rehearsed the band for a week at bass player Albert Roger’s Mistletoe Ranch Studios in Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina and we started the rhythm tracks on February 16th. The grooves these guys gave to my songs were spectacular – and we only needed to do two takes of each song. All twelve rhythm tracks were recorded in two days! We then recorded all my piano and organ overdubs, the horn player’s parts, my lead vocals and Polly’s harmony vocals in record time. I have to say the process was extremely efficient and a pleasure, due in large part to the skill of engineer Trevor Marron. And the laid back atmosphere of the studio, and friendliness of owner Jeff Hodges, studio manager Casey Benally and lead intern Freddie Reed made the whole project feel like I was recording at my own house.
I could not be happier with how “Back To The Soul” sounds. The staff’s dedication to details, to getting it right and making me, Polly and all the musicians feel at home is something I’ll always remember fondly.
“Back To The Soul” happened during most of the month of February 2015, as people back up north where we live got buried under several feet of snow. Not only did we escape the brutal Winter of 2015, I made what I feel is my best record to date.
I am mighty proud of it – and I’m so glad I found Charleston Sound. It was just the world-class studio I needed, nestled in the tidal rivers and pines in a quiet little corner of South Carolina.”