Release Date: Dec 1, 2009
Record label: G.O.O.D. Music/Universal
Genre(s): Pop, R&B
Mr. Hudson was never going to have it easy from the critics. The well brought up ex-grammar school type, with his known penchant for trilby hats and tendency to quote polite English literature in his songs, was a target from the start, by the simple fact that he looks neat, speaks nice, and makes music not totally unlike the music of Sting. Now, for second album Straight No Chaser, he’s dropped the backing band with whom he made his name and gone to Kanye ‘LOLZ’ West’s studio, plunging himself wholeheartedly into slick, West Coast R&B and presumably getting his face stuck in a vocoder in the process.
Since his 2007 debut album, Ben Hudson has lost his Library but gained Kanye West, credited here as executive producer. West has even declared Hudson to be "potentially one of the most important artists of his generation", which is a little unfair on this perfectly amiable singer. Hudson may be a decent, Stingish vocalist and a distinctive lyricist (especially when serenading his ex-girlfriend, as on Stiff Upper Lip: "Now I'm walking back to our place, which is soon to be your place/ Throwing my shit in bin bags"), but it's far too early to make predictions.
One of the more befuddling cultural micro-phenomena of recent times has been the US hip-hop community’s sudden fascination with not-very-interesting British white-boy music. You can probably rationalise [a]Jay-Z[/a], [a]Kanye West[/a] and [a]Coldplay[/a]’s love-in as simply three globally massive artists comparing their respective vastnesses, but quite how perennial mattress-protector-requirers [a]Keane[/a] persuaded on-the-rise Somali-Canadian rapper [a]K’Naan[/a] that it would be a good idea to work with them is a mystery indeed. Equally mysterious is how [a]Mr Hudson[/a], formerly eclecto-indie dullards [a]Mr Hudson & The Library[/a], has (we’ll say ‘has’ rather than ‘have’, given that members of The Library are now credited as guest performers) enraptured the aforementioned Messrs West and Z, unless they have been waiting all their life for a man who sounds like the mutant offspring of Sting and a bassoon being constantly fed through Auto-Tune.