The first time I saw Hughie Stone Fish play live was on Valentine’s Day 2 years ago. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. His songs are just the kind you want to hear on Vday… after a hard break-up.
I am very picky in my love of songwriters. From Joni Mitchell to Ani Difranco, from Don Henley to Taylor Swift, from Garth Brooks to Death Cab for Cutie to Jimmy Eat World (ok, this last one’s more of a band crush), to so many people in between, it’s the voices of these songs that kill me. Some combination of words + melody that drive right to the heart of it.
Give me the honesty of your experience in this life. This is what I hear when I listen to Hughie’s songs.
I could give you a run down of the album song by song. Break things down note by note, like the groove in “Israel Song”, or how the guitar part in the title track “Siren Songs” echos the determination and guilt of the singer. How “Broken Homes” is in an odd meter, the storyteller singing “fallllllling… fassstttterrr” and you really do feel like you’re falling, because you’re missing.a.beat. It’s just… gone.
This is called prosody. When the structure of the rhythm / melody supports the meaning of the lyrics. This is something I learned in my own songwriting studies that are so far gone now. This is something HSF gets.
His honesty could almost make you uncomfortable, if you didn’t believe every word he sings – but you do, and so, you go along song to song, amazed at both the humor and the sadness a song can contain. Which is probably why I love them so – I live in the grey world of joy and sadness, of sarcasm and hurt, of craving emotional honesty.
But if you want the song that will just slay you, it’s “Benjamin”, about a father’s stark honesty about not being such a great father, unable to help his son. Holy hell. Makes me cry every time.
“If you leave us now
You’ll break your mother’s heart
I know I should’ve told you
I’ve wait for too long
Benjamin, I’m sorry, I did you wrong”
But that’s not the single, and so I can’t share that song with you here. But I hope you’ll check the record out today – you can start with the single below, “Siren Songs”, complete with stop-motion chalkboard video. Love it.
Update: you can listen to the whole record and ‘pay what you can’ via bandcamp. http://hughiestonefish.bandcamp.com/album/siren-songs