The MCA Nashville label is the home of slick country music so this debut album isn’t quite what you’d expect. Transcontinental’s sound leans towards rootsy country rock with a hint of bluegrass. It’s even more unexpected to learn Hughes is Australian, a guitar prodigy from Quorn, SA, who won first prize at the Port Pirie Country Music Festival at the age of eight. Like Keith Urban, another Aussie expat in Nashville, he’s a guitar wiz, and his skill is evident on both electric and acoustic. He’s also writes, sharing composer credits on 10 of the 11 songs here, working with some of the finest writers in US country including his producer, Terry McBride, who had hits with his trio McBride and the Ride. On the final track, Hughes rocks out with a credible version of Gram Parsons’s Luxury Liner. However, as much as he wants to be a country rocker, the standout tracks are two beautiful ballads, Soldier For The Lonely and The Only Girl In Town, where he’s joined on harmony vocals by Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss respectively. The mere presence of two artists of this calibre suggests Jedd Hughes is an artist worth watching.

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