Old Tyme Religion

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Like many musicians who can do two things at once, Hugo’s mix of rock and R&B was oversold as revolutionary by press releases, but that mash-up is fairly common in the post-Jamiroquai world, and probably long before that. Still, that doesn’t mean Old Tyme Religion isn’t fresh in feel, as it is, thanks to the commitment of its singer/songwriter, who sounds like Citizen Cope if Citizen Cope aimed to be overtly sexy, or a jam band child who shares equal love for Jay-Z. Speaking of Jay-Z, Hugo’s good-timing, front-porch cover of “99 Problems” from the rapper -- and now Hugo’s label boss, as this is on Hova's Roc Nation -- is the main attraction here, and there are plenty of strong follow-ups. “Hopelessly Stoned” sounds very happy to be so, while “Rock 'n' Roll Delight” does just what it says on the tin and “Mekong River Delta” is the kind of polished, hippie-trippy singalong World Party or the Lightning Seeds used to nail, just with an American, Roc Nation spin. Even when clichés and iffy lyrics stuff some of the more lackluster cuts, Old Tyme Religion is a guilty pleasure that transitions into a real pleasure once you let the good vibes through.

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