In an era lived at broadband speeds, sometimes it’s nice to slow down—or at least humbly ask Time to take a breather and let us catch up. “Time slow down / wait for me,” singer-songwriter Tod Hughes pleads in the title track of his new record, Time Slow Down.
On the record, Hughes is accompanied by his usual suspects, a collective of local folk musicians that perform under the Tod Hughes Project moniker. Hughes believes in making music of the folk, music that “comes from the spirit inside and is meant to touch the soul of the hearer.” And, as is typical of folk musicians, he believes it to be best rendered with real, tangible instruments. As he says in his bio, not without some jocularity, Time Slow Down was made with “real instruments by real people!”
The Calgary native is cut from JJ Cale cloth, boasting a similar relaxed character with similar folk contours. But Hughes’ subtle wit and understated irony, coupled with his folk instrumentations and hand drum percussion, make him even more reminiscent of Paul Simon.
Look no further than the record’s fourth track to find both said wit and said percussion. Muted trumpet, hand drums, doo-wop-like backing singers, and acoustic guitars follow the singers's humorous lyrics in “Drinking Coffee in a Hipster Place.” The song is a portrait of millennial-ridden cafés and their plugged-in, “chill” twenty-somethings all absorbed in their screens. In the accompanying video, said millennials join in on the fun, looking up from their monitors long enough to mouth the chorus.
The song is clever and an interesting lens into how the non-millennial generation observes its progeny. And it’s fun imagining the twofold irony of Mr. Hughes stopping by a hipster place to find his reviewer drinking coffee and listening to underground techno music (that is definitely not played by 'real' instruments) in his free time (and yes that is indeed the case in this instance).
Tod Hughes is a good songwriter. His folk is thoughtful and smart, and it celebrates some of the simpler aspects of life that we millennials occasionally forget to appreciate. Time Slow Down may not be Highway 61 Revisited, but it should still find a home with the roots rock fans that miss (or missed) the golden era of American folk: The Dylans, the Simons, the Cales. And even though some of them (RIP JJ) are still around, it never hurts to have another talented songwriter on the scene.