Hugh Harris (guitarist of The Kooks) has released his debut solo album, Hugh Harris (September 12). Stream it here! You can also watch the trailer for Hugh Harris in the tweet below.
— Hugh Harris (@hughsaan) September 11, 2020
The album trailer shows a series of images that reflect the scope of the album – galaxies and stars, glitter and glam rock, mountain ranges and total peace. If Hugh Harris is one thing, it is difficult to pin down. Its broad, self-assured range is reflected in the number of instruments and layers that Harris plays with. The string and horn arrangements are self-taught. Those who prepared for the album by listening to its two lead singles, ‘Earth Like You’ and ‘Curious Illustrations’, will likely be pleasantly surprised from the start, by the psychedelic, dreamy quality of ‘Intro’.
When the first single, ‘Earth Like You’, was released, Harris said this: “when I was young I used to get these crazy high temperatures and hear loud noises and feel like my limbs were larger than they were or I was sinking through the ground … The way I deal with that is to imagine it’s some kind of communicative thing with another species and that, in a really strange way, helps to relieve the stress of it. That song came from that feeling.” Then he explained how and why he turned it into a love story. Somehow, this makes complete sense.
Hugh Harris is really a journey of self-exploration, in everything including name. The artist has hinted at some of this in various promotions for the album, speaking about linking his own journey of understanding himself to a number of places, including London, Melbourne, Cuba, India and LA – you can hear all of these influences across its twelve tracks. Harris calls it a “diary”, and you can really sense how much of himself he poured into the lyrics and the self-taught composition.
The album is tinged with love and loss. Harris dedicates it to his parents, and he has selected an old photograph of the two of them for the cover. He tweeted the following:
The cover art is a photograph of my parents I found whilst clearing out the attic. I’ve thought lots about travelling back to this moment in time. Perhaps in an alternate world I could.
Or, perhaps in an alternate reality I wouldn’t need to, as they might still be here
— Hugh Harris (@hughsaan) August 21, 2020
Harris follows this up with, “parallel worlds are a big theme on my record.”
Speaking to Metro about his experiences across the world, Harris says, “I learnt to accept the loss of both my parents early on in life and to start seeing the time I did have with them as an enormous gift rather than just something that was unfairly taken away from me. While in India, I also found inner peace and, through my connection to nature and the world, my life became something more of a delightful cosmic cycle of serenity, consciousness and perpetuity. The main intention for my record was sharpened during this time and I even recorded some chanting there, which made it on to the song.”
Hugh Harris is a wonderful amalgamation of experiences and instruments and lyrics and countries. Every now and then you catch a Kooks-like riff or line, but really the only discernible strong influence over Hugh Harris is himself.