Irish artist Barry Jay Hughes started turning heads in early 2015 when he burst onto the scene brandishing his affable inaugural outing, This Way Up. In the year or so since, the Monaghan native has appeared on stage in every corner of the country, impressing pundits and public alike with his array of amiable folk anthems. Now he’s heading back out on the road to introduce the world to his latest record, Tried and Treasured.
The friendly five track undertaking begins with the laid-back riff of “One Petal Down” before a spirited serenade sails in to absorb across affecting flute work on the way forward. This forges a hushed but haunting endeavour that acts as an innocuous opener. “Crying Shame” is a livelier effort next, taking off upon enthusiastic guitars and expressive singing. There’s an almost exotic edge to the instrumentation, which ensures it stays exciting as it paces purposefully towards a fast and effective finish.
“Full Circle” eases up on the gas again afterwards, exhibiting moving music amid a gentle duet. The ambience remains warm and relaxing throughout, resulting in a remarkably poignant piece that’s extremely soothing. “Medieval City” takes its time developing then, gradually growing into a captivating combination of characterful keys, rousing riffs and vibrant vocals. “Ballad of a Troubadour” adopts a determined demeanour when it’s done, blending barrages of energetic instrumentation and quirky crooning to bring things to a colourful conclusion.
Hughes has amassed a serene yet stirring assortment of songs here, the harmless humour of which affords them a lot of accessibility. If you’re looking for a light listen to relieve tension and stress at the end of a long day, then Tried and Treasured is well equipped to cure your craving. You can find it for yourself on Bandcamp now.