Neilson Hubbard

Sing into Me

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Neilson Hubbard has the voice of a fragile and broken singer/songwriter. Going down the road of people like Elliott Smith and, to a lesser extent, Soul Asylum, the singer starts by questioning the future in "Stars." It's a poignant opener that has lovely harmonies from Cathy Horne. It has a certain British pop flavor, courtesy of the Beatles-like vocals that soar as it concludes. "You'll Be There" is a gorgeous duet that suggests a young Michael Penn as a starting point. What works better, though, are his lyrics, since they could be directed at his lover or -- as is often the case -- a spiritual power. David Henry's cello is another welcome addition. "And in everything there will be glory," Hubbard sings, a perfect example of this possible double meaning. "Ready for You" misses the mark instantly, though. Whether it's the dreadful drum loop or programming, the tune gets off on the wrong foot and never truly recovers. It unfortunately ruins some strong and bittersweet harmonies that Neil Finn would appreciate. The title track's hushed tone is stunning, with Hubbard resembling Ron Sexsmith at his most timid. Some lines, although economical, are vivid and meaningful, while the musician gives a quirky performance on acoustic guitar. The Matthew Sweet campfire singalong "Everything's Starting" is sugar-coated and infectious. "Everything's starting to look brand new/And I think I'm starting to feel it too," he sings prior to a round of "ba da bas." The needless cello on "Say You Love Me" dampens the harmony vocals, making the song plod along before a painful bridge ensues. He redeems himself on "Nothing Without You," a precious lullaby that definitely belongs on Tom Petty's album She's the One. This is a very fine effort with minimal sonic bumps on a spiritual road.

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