Sometime during the ’90s, alternative rock and adult contemporary found common ground and a new genre was born. No, not “adult album alternative,” although that comes close. Rather, another breed of artist suddenly appeared, one without the rough edges of modern rock but not as wimpy as easy listening either. The Gin Blossoms may have been the first to achieve this, combining the bittersweet jangle of college radio with the smoothed-down melodicism of Top 40 pop. After them came Deep Blue Something, the New Radicals, and Barenaked Ladies. It was new music that made mellow thirtysomethings feel as hip as their grunge-loving offspring without becoming deaf.
Australian singer/songwriter Hugh Wilson falls into this category. Call it hot adult contemporary if you want; pick your industry lingo. Wilson has the emotionally transcendent populist rock of U2 in his bullseye. On “She’s a Sun” and “Here We Go,” Wilson grabs the microphone with the focused, fiery energy of Bono. Like Bono, Wilson can raise his voice for that moment of spiritual exhilaration.
Most of the tracks follow the same guitar-based formula although he does throw a curveball with “Free,” which is as sunny and laid back as the most relaxing of reggae tunes.
Hugh Wilson: www.hughwilson.org