Although Hues was released in December of 2020, it was a project I recently revisited with fresh ears. Subsequently, I felt called to write about it. I felt “called,” in part, as an act of defiance against the collective obsession with “newness,” and partly out of sheer guilt and shame for not having written about it in the first place.
Hues’s music is similar to that of Solange– amorphous by genre and nature, and equally captivating. Though not technically an album but rather an assemblage of previously released and unreleased tracks, Hues contains all the necessary qualities to be considered a concise body of work. My only complaint being that it seems each bite-sized interlude only leaves me wanting more of the story. A combination of next-to-perfect sequencing and, at times, jarring instrumentals, Hues carries us down a mystical path on the outskirts of society, with various obstacles and challenges along the way.
The intro, “Slippin,” serves as our call to adventure– a haunting, bluesy warning sign, begging us to turn back while simultaneously luring us further into the river. Wasting no time, we transition into “Notice Me,” the EP’s siren song and the true genesis of our expedition. Like the solace of sunlight peeking through the blanket of darkness and tree limbs overhead, Hues sings of perceived romance on “Lay Up.” With daintily melodic deep sighs, the tale of “Icarus” reminds us who is both the hero and the villain in this story.
With perhaps the most harmonious transition on Hues, we experience the first tragedy of our journey. On “If Ever,” its hair-raising instrumentation and melancholy lyrics leave us yearning for a long lost companion on this quest. The track effortlessly seeps into its foreboding successor, “Ends.” “You know how this ends, don’t you? Just like I do,” Hues sings.
Before becoming too comfortable with our new, lonely reality down on the stream, we’re reminded of treachery that’s afoot with “snakes x elephants.” We mustn’t linger too long, as Hues sings, “Snakes and elephants they crowd the room / No room for comfort / Lost all time to stop and lick my wounds, nor would I want to.” Nearing the end of our haunt, Hues ever-so-gracefully sings of heartbreak while pondering self-worth on “Desert Flower.” Then, as though we’ve abruptly woken from a poison-induced daze, we hear the EP’s deepest cut, “Death on the Vine.”
After drifting past the last rocks of the riverbed, we find our final resting place. Hues’s final track, “Yellow” is a bright, welcoming meadow. The pleasant destination serves as a reminder that traveling off the beaten path, though sometimes unnerving or intimidating, may ultimately lead to peace and prosperity. Thus, our journey is complete as we approach the meadow, having lived to tell the tale.