“Hotshot” – Dan Hubbard

4 stars (out of 5)

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We seem to have a spate of singles at the moment. Not complaining, but it’s mainly albums that pop through the letterbox or into the inbox these days. In a different era, there were definite reasons for releasing a single; because it was aimed at a specific market, because it was a trailer for an upcoming album or because it didn’t really fit on the album and all of these hade to be part of a marketing schedule. Things are much more fluid now; it’s only a few weeks since Danny Schmidt released a complementary pair of singles almost simultaneously and almost immediately after they were completed in order to catch the moment they were documenting. In this case it seems that Illinois native Dan Hubbard has a song that he’s pleased with and wants to get it out where it can be heard.

“Hotshot” is a twist on the eternal triangle theme, with the disruptor taking the part of a middling small-town singer with a Loki-like appetite for mischief and mayhem, moving in to break up a solid relationship for his own ends. It’s an interesting arrangement as well; Dan recorded the 12-string guitar and vocal acoustically (and loud) before handing it over to his guitar player Matthew Pittman to create a dense, multi-layered, reverb-heavy mix where the instruments blend into each other. It’s easy enough to pick out the synth, but I’d struggle with the mandolin and marimba. There are lots of nice little hooks that put their stamp on the song, including the unison guitar/bass riff in the bridge and choral vocals that push the song on to its climax. “Hotshot” is Americana on steroids; front and centre is acoustic while the rest of the production wraps around it like a woolly jumper, adding extra emphasis and contrast to the clean guitar and vocal parts.

“Hotshot” is simple song with a big arrangement displaying Dan’s gift with a melody and a lyric and it’s well worth a listen.

It’s self-released in the UK on Friday June 26th to stream or download.