Hailed as a “daring and multifaceted performer” (Hartford Advocate) with a “high level of musicianship and songwriting expertise” (Amplifier Magazine), Jeff Tuohy’s first full-length album since 2009, Hudson Delta, seamlessly blends genres and influences to create a collection of songs that range from Celtic shanty to country-rock anthem.
Tuohy’s aptitude for the performing arts was realized at an early age, allowing him to constantly be involved in music and theater throughout his youth. He attended Boston’s Emerson college to pursue degrees in both Theatre and PR/Advertising, all while releasing his debut album in 2005. Witnessing the downfall of a record deal and the economy in 2009 following his sophomore album, Tuohy notes: “I had a choice: make good on my professional degree, or double down on art. I chose the latter.”
Hudson Delta is an explosion of authenticity, opening with a bang of a song in “Funeral Party.” The song is a horn-filled bluesy-jazz spectacle with a serious Billy Joel influence. Tuohy’s gravelly baritone vocals, a horn arrangement, and jazzy keys create a song that’s definitely nothing short of a party. This jazz-rock sound carries over to the album’s first preceding single, “The Devil’s in New Orleans,” a more mellowed-out track with a seductive voodoo swing. The mostly spoken-word track crescendos into a soulful declaration backed by a soaring horn section.
Tuohy’s expert genre-bending continues throughout the record, emphasized once again on the album’s other two anticipatory singles, “Murder in A Dancehall” and “Old Roads.” The former starts out as a gritty, backwoods country tune, and its chorus flourishes into a steady reggae beat. Not the two most seemingly compatible genres, but Tuohy makes it work well.
“Old Roads” definitely has a more traditional pop-country sound, similar to Kenny Chesney or Brad Paisley. The song contains all the heartfelt storytelling of the genre, its accompanying music video telling a story of love and pride for one’s hometown. This song is also where we are able to see how incredible Tuohy’s vocal range is, hearing him let out a soulful belt in the song’s last chorus.
Just when you think Tuohy can’t combine any more genres, “Sea of Galilee” takes the listener by pleasant surprise. The country-song-meets-Celtic-shanty has an infectious, revelrous jive that makes you want to get up and dance. The song has a whimsical and theatrical element, yet it remains tasteful and fits with the record’s overall vibe.
Hudson Delta’s final track, “Click, Boom, Click,” wraps up the album in a way that absolutely oozes with NOLA jazz. The song has a sultry swing, an extravagant farewell as Tuohy closes his 11-track journey with a crashing piano solo.
In terms of expressions, Hudson Delta is less of a melting-pot and more of a mixed salad of genres. Each genre Tuohy plays with is distinctly present, working excellently with one another to take the listener on a unique theatrical journey. The album is a diverse party, and upon its conclusion, we leave as most satisfied guests.