A family rich in musical talents and tradition forged Hughie Mac’s artistic identity early on. His soundtrack for growing up embraced diversity – Broadway show tunes, Sinatra, and classical music, among others, helped shaped the singer and performer Mac would eventually become. The Philadelphia based singer embraced rock, country, and classic pop when he began performing, along with respectful nods to vocalists like the aforementioned Sinatra, and “Let’s Get Away”, his latest single, is a track ‘Ol Blue Eyes himself tackled with superb results. The track is included on the third volume in Hughie Mac’s sprawling tribute to great American songwriting, Hughie Mac Sings Some Great Songs Part 3, and makes a convincing case for Mac being a natural interpreter of this style.
The playful piano melodies opening “Let’s Get Away” are rendered with warm intimacy before the song begins in earnest. It is a performance succeeding for many reasons, but one of its most crucial elements is its process of accumulation – the relatively spartan beginning, focusing solely on the piano and Mac’s voice, soon incorporates gently swinging drums that gives the song a restrained burst of added energy. Mac has an excellent musical dialogue with the piano playing. It has a spry bounce throughout the entirety of the song, seamlessly weaving inviting upper register melodies together with heavier, lower register notes. The piano playing practically serves as a second vocalist and the interplay between it and his singing rates as the song’s highlight.
You cannot help but admire how Mac takes on material associated with iconic vocalists and makes it his own with unabashed charisma. There’s nothing too reverential in his treatment of “Let’s Get Away” – he cozies up to the lyrical content with the sort of playfulness the song demands, but he likewise conveys genuine affection in each line of the track. Nothing sounds too deliberate or overly plotted out. Mac, instead, unwinds the song’s lyrics with patience and cool confidence. He knows the song well, you can tell, and focuses from the first on giving it a natural feel that underlines its emotion. His obvious love for the song comes through but, even more importantly, he clearly senses what the song needs to succeed and delivers the goods.
The production is ideal and the running time will appeal to me. Though two minutes and forty-four seconds may seem slight to some, even a single listen to the song will make it clear Mac never takes any delivering this performance and we experience more in that seemingly brief amount of time than what longer songs often provide. The instrumentation is presented as an equal to Mac’s voice and provides able support throughout thanks to that decision rather than coming off as an afterthought. This isn’t a glorified solo vehicle for Mac’s voice where the arrangement is, essentially, a afterthought. It’s a perfect example of the excellence Mac brings to bear on Hughie Mac Sings Some Great Songs Part 3; for existing fans, it’s a reaffirmation of Mac’s gifts and, for newcomers, serves as a first-class introduction.
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