When Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were leading Chic in the late '70s and early '80s, the producers' main focus was disco funk. But after Chic's breakup, they went their separate ways, became increasingly diverse, and produced their share of rock-oriented projects. The fact that Edwards had both rock and R&B credentials made him the ideal producer for Grayson Hugh's Road to Freedom. Released in 1992 -- three years before Edwards' untimely death -- this generally appealing, if slightly uneven, CD has one foot in roots rock and Americana and the other in '60s-style soul. Fans of Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellencamp, and Tom Petty should have no problem getting into earthy originals like "Lost Avenue" and "Soul Cat Girl," but at the same time, Road to Freedom also has a lot of soul appeal -- Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, and Sam Cooke are all prominent influences. When this CD came out, one reviewer compared Hugh's phrasing to that of the Isley Brothers' Ronald Isley -- which isn't a bad comparison because Cooke was a major influence on Isley. And even if Isley isn't a direct influence on this album, there is no denying that Isley and Hugh have a mutual influence in Cooke. But whoever Hugh is compared to, he's a talented artist in his own right. And while Road to Freedom falls short of perfect, it is generally rewarding and is arguably the singer/songwriter's best release. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi

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