Its a knowing musician who can bring listeners to the heights of sheer elation, and then ease them down with measured tomes offering reflection and rumination. Indeed, if thats the definition of an engaging artist then suffice it to say Brad Hudson fully fits the bill. Next New Heartbreak is an album that’s fully informed through both banjo-driven bluegrass and thoughtful paeans to times gone by. As a result, it’s a humbling example of carefully crafted emotion and insights that aptly resonate with clarity and conviction.
That said, the title alone may be enough to persuade newcomers that Hudson has that knowing intent. However, it doesn’t begin to convey the full range of sentiment that emanates from these tunes. These aren’t simply songs about lost love or the guy who didn’t get the girl, although there are examples of that as well. Instead, they’re about places, people, and times that may be gone but not forgotten, expressed in ways that are firmly etched in the present, though clearly inspired by the past. Hudson conveys his melodies with honesty and humility, and it’s a credit to his credence that when he sings Appalachian Memories, his idyllic ode to the environs of East Tennessee, he has one of its native daughters, Dolly Parton, lending her vocals in harmony.
Nevertheless, while the references may be regional, the feelings are uniform and universal. Songs like The Day My Daddy Cried, Smoky Mountain Strong, and the closing instrumental My One and Only are tender and touching in ways that leave only the most callous individual indifferent to the intent. While Ramblers Song and Truckers Blues rumble at full throttle, it’s the sentimental asides — those mentioned above and others as well — that find a common bond, and with it, a common connection as well.
“When the Lord made me, I guess he broke the mold,” Hudson sings early on, and while that may seem somewhat precocious coming from one who’s yet to etch his identity — especially as far as the wider world is concerned — it’s a statement that rings true, particularly as far as the music is concerned. It’s never easy to convey conviction, but by stirring the senses in certain ways, a meaningful bond be artist and audience is readily assured.