Monaghan based singer/songwriter Jim McHugh has recently released his debut solo album, Noise Machine. Jim brings a new dynamic to folk music as he cleverly infuses traditional styles with an uptempo and raw indie style (even the odd ballad) that creates something very different for the Irish music scene.
The album opens with the heavy “Hills of Mullyash”. The distorted guitar and energetic drumming kicks off the album with a very high tempo start. This is juxtaposed with incredibly melancholic lyrics ‘What I did, I’m no saint. God protects me now, oh God protects me now. So I die in the Hills of Mullyash.’ This immediate juxtaposition demonstrates Jim’s ability to create an emotional connection with his audience as well as cementing his Irish roots from the very start of Noise Machine.
We go from the “Hills of Mullyash” to the 60s-esque “River Won’t Flow“. This track is considerably more relaxed than before but still maintains an upbeat melody. Yet again, McHugh opposes a semi-cheery musical background with lyrics that a considerably less so. I couldn’t help but think of a struggle with mental health with this track, however I could in fact be miles away from the message Jim was trying to get across. This simply demonstrates his ability to create a poetic meaning within his lyrics and to allow the his listeners to attach their own experiences to the tracks.
As the album progresses we see a multitude of genres intertwining with folk music. We have “Red Rose” that is reminiscent of early Radiohead alongside heart-wrenching ballads such as “My Destiny“. We’re then introduced to tracks that could easily feature on a Bob Dylan album like “Sweet Surrender“. Throughout Noise Machine there is no one genre or style that can be pinpointed. It is an amalgamation of musical influences that allow the poetic lyrics to really feature prominently and remain the focal point of the album.
One thing I found incredibly interesting about Noise Machine is I never knew what was going to come next. It’s an album to be very proud of as Jim’s passion throughout is undeniably evident.