Praise for Pretending To Wake Up 

‘Pretending To Wake Up’ is a fascinating collection that showcases McHugh’s most compelling work to date. The gobsmacking singles ‘Dave’ and ‘Hey Jimbo’ only give a glimpse of the treasure that ‘Pretending To Wake Up’ has to offer. Gems like the emotive ‘Her Love’ is a joy to the ears and boasts the artist’s fine musical prowess – the track’s dark tribal beat exudes hypnotic qualities that brood and simmer beneath McHugh’s deep vocals. This mysterious tune glimmers with a sense of innocence as McHugh slips into his falsetto while a supple twinkle on guitar adorns the backdrop in a tender lament. It’s within the deep yearning and minimalist instrumentation that we see the true beauty of the song before it erupts into a cinematic and passionate crescendo. The track is simply divine and quite the emotive masterpiece. 

McHugh’s artistic talent is on full display within ‘Pretending To Wake Up’ as he takes us from the lush ‘Her Love’ to the gritty, dark ‘Virtual Bomb Drop’, an alternative rock smasher. This riff-heavy banger drives along a foundation of pounding drums, slithering grooves on bass and angular guitars that ooze swagger and gusto throughout. The track is a wonderful contrast to ‘Her Love’ that pulls the listener further into McHugh’s vibrant musicianship. 

All over the album, we see McHugh blending musical genres – something the artist does with deft skill and enviable ease. From the panache dipped rock n’ roll of ‘Dave’ and ‘ Hey Jimbo’ to the jazz hues within ‘Shut Your Mouth’ and reggae rhythmic elements in ‘Mo Stór ’, McHugh invites listeners to indulge in the myriad of unique sounds within each satisfying and richly textured track. McHugh knows when to blast his tunes with ballsy rock and heavy instrumentation and when to tease, lure and create brooding tension within his music. This skill provides refreshing jolts throughout the album, with raw crescendo’s erupting from seemingly tender and pining tunes. This is aptly shown in ‘Mo Stór ’ which sees McHugh movingly lay his heart on his sleeve “I was born to be alive, with you” over a buoyant guitar, and soft instrumentation that becomes more expressive with indie rock elements for the crescendo. 

Lyrical honesty and storytelling is something McHugh has become known for. Most notably in ‘Such A Cow’. McHugh exclaims “you’re such a cow” over jagged guitar and punchy drums. He’s not one to mince his word. However, there is plenty of witty insights and thought-provoking idioms within his lyrics that leaves much to be admired about the artist’s talent as a songwriter. 

‘Pretending To Wake Up’ is a fantastic and cohesive collection of tracks that marks McHugh as an artist to keep an eye on. The diverse blend of instrumentation teamed with catchy sweeping melodies and lyrical content makes ‘Pretending To Wake Up’ an exciting record ready for repeat plays.

The superb, slick singing with catchy vocal hooks spliced in spots help amplify the great flowing melodies, and the writing itself is constantly captivating, with barely a moment where interest is lost. 

The rhythms have such an infectious swinging groove to them, and a big part of that are the consistently excellent displays on the guitar which add a much welcomed extra layer of energy. 

With certain songs he’s able to launch into a grand-sized flurry (e.g. Her Love) and it’s quite the intoxicating thrill, and in other moments he can take it nice and slow and still produce that same level of engagement. 

Ireland is home to many a talented musician, and Jim McHugh definitely fits that mould, bringing us a highly entertaining and sure as heck impressionable album with many admirable qualities squeezed in from top to bottom.

Jim McHugh’s new eight tracks bring a new dynamic and alluring sound to the rock genre. 

Opening with the anthemic lead single Dave, McHugh anchors the album with this meaty stew of blues and classic rock. An energetic and edgy sound runs through this track with crunchy guitars, a barrage of heavy percussion and a rubbery bass riff. This tightly woven concoction of sounds produces a dynamic opening track that will make you want to dive into the rest of the record for more. 

The explosive energy that launched the album settles as we get to Shut Your Mouth and Her Love. A free-flowing almost vinyl effect runs through Shut Your Mouth capturing the 1960s mod pop sound with a dreamy swinging melody whilst Her Love has a more subdued introverted tone. A wonderfully brooding slow-burner Her Love is a highlight on the record. McHugh’s monotone vocals carry this hypnotic melody as he weaves around a smooth gliding bassline and subtle guitar pickings creating a murky but heartfelt sound. 

Showcasing Jim McHugh’s eclectic nature and talent, he dives back into the rock n roll genre with Hey Jimbo. This punchy guitar-driven track bursts with an unapologetic energy and thump that has an infectious sound to it. 

Mo Stor, Virtual Bomb Drop & Sister Brother guide us to the end of the album with a staggering display of Jim McHugh’s natural flair for gritty and melodic song structures. 

Bringing the album to a close with Such A Cow, McHugh combines tongue-in-cheek lyrics, with a Weezery bedroom guitar sound and a chorus that will float in your head (annoyingly) for days. 

In all Pretending To Wake Up is an impressive eclectic cocktail of rock with hints of folk and blues brimming with Jim McHugh’s relentless energy ability and passion for song-writing.

Praise for Dave

So many of the great songs are built  around a fab bassline - rumbling  along with the drums before the  singing starts and the guitars come 
crashing in – we’re beginning to thinks it’s some kind of formula for  how to rock. The Pixies were adroit  at letting Kim Deal pull the strings 
before the guys blew up around her,  Jack White has been known to lead  with a bassline on occasion and even the Dead Kennedys  used these moments to appear even more sinister than perhaps they were. A n d  w h i l e these guys all rocked, and some, they were never formulaic. So it is with Jim McHugh’s new single, a belter which seems to borrow elements from all these greats and more before spewing out something that is entirely his own. Dave has an almost industrial feel to it, Butch McNeill’s pounding drums - already nodding to Fugazi -augmented by little dings and rimshots over that menacing bassline by Paul McCabe. It all builds to a menace in this, as Jim puts it, “original story of misspent youth. Dave unveils my interactions with a friend who was known for being on the wrong side of the law on numerous occasions”. And Jim’s voice, a fine instrument in itself, seems to shift from role of whispering confidant to collaborator just as he allows himself to soar and Paul Sherry’s guitars crank up the angst. It’s a neat trick, this juxtaposition, and Jim uses it at all the right moments. 
So, an unformulaic formula for rock, then, and once it again it works. Dave is released on February 5 and album Pretending To Wake Up is out in May. 


I’ll start this review off a little differently. Man you are going to LOVE the chorus. It literally punches you in the face, which is hard to do because, by the time you get to the chorus, you are already slapped in the senses by the intro, verse, and bridge. This song is something you can’t not listen to. Like a constant hook, it just grabs you and takes you along for the ride. 

If this is the lead single from his upcoming album titled ‘Pretending to Wake Up’, then ‘Dave’ never went to bed. 

Ryan Martin

Dave’ is a rousing rock number showcasing a darker side to Jim McHugh’s sound. Spreading bluesy guitar riffs over a hip seducing rhythm ‘Dave’ is a wild, infectious banger. The verse wriggles with rich percussion, dark bass rumbles, and deep vocals from McHugh hooking the listener instantly. Then without any warning, the chorus swarms in on a wave of rock n roll bravado. Clamorous guitars, punchy drums, and a thrilling vocal display from McHugh ensure the chorus isn’t leaving your head anytime soon. Blending funky guitar elements, with mosh ready frenzy, ‘Dave’ is a blazing new single from McHugh. Love it. 


Ahead of his third album Pretending to Wake Up due for release in May, Monaghan singer-songwriter Jim McHugh drops lead single Dave today. Belying the quiet intro, Dave soon breaks into full rock mode, though the subtleties of Jim’s folk nuances are perhaps still simmering in the background. Despite having talents playing multiple instruments himself, the album brings a full band project for added impact. Dave is the story of a misspent youth and, as such, a welcome reminder of life outside lockdown, something we could all use right now. Dust off your air guitar and play along below.



Praise for Hey Jimbo 

Jim McHugh today releases his new song titled ‘Hey Jimbo’. The track starts off with an infectious groove and continues the upward spiral with a monster hook that continues from start to finish. The grit and grime of the music creatively counteracts Jim’s unique blend of rangeful vocals and songwriting craft. This is brilliance captured. 

 Ryan Martin 

Beginning with an energetic rock drum groove, this song builds with layers of crunchy guitars and a tight bass line. Hey Jimbo is the type of tune that forces your foot to sway & bop. The chorus is so playful and fun. It will burrow away into your memory and find a nice comfortable spot to stay. In the second verse we are greeted by the addition of a brass section, which adds extra colour to the mix. The lyrical content throughout Hey Jimbo is a tribute to that old familiar battle of unrequited love. The external torment of being so overwhelmingly attracted to “her” and being pegged back by the ever so agonising truth that this love is not mutual. The child within me gives a nod to the memories of all my rock n roll introductions with a tone that is so nicely rich and luscious. This track has not only been beautifully recorded, mixed and mastered but has every potential to become a rock n roll classic. 

Shane Michael Ryan 

’Hey Jimbo’ is a lively, gritty tune as McHugh propels raw riffs over a thunderous drum display to create his punchy rock backdrop. Following on from his tantalising release, ‘Dave’, the song continues McHugh’s venture into a darker, more raw rock aesthetic. Brimming with energy and a relentless percussive onslaught, ‘Hey Jimbo’ spirals into motion as the clamorous drums lead into the bluesy soaked riffs and beefy bass lines, creating a thrilling soundscape for the listener to indulge in. Throughout the song, themes of desperation, tension and yearning come to the fore and are deftly expressed through biting arrangements and instrumental embellishments. However, it is through the lyrics and McHugh’s expressive vocal delivery where the themes truly hit home. McHugh sings “Hey Jimbo She don’t love you, Hey Jimbo you’ll see, In the morning, she will leave you.” – the hard-hitting, earnest lyrics skillfully express the distress and uncertainty within the song which is greatly enhanced by the instrumental backdrop.  

McHugh is developing his passionate and edgy sound superbly, creating tunes that exude an infectious swagger and anthemic might. Boasting an impressive full-bodied sound and slick musicianship, ‘Hey Jimbo’ is a lean, mean well-orchestrated tune from Jim McHugh. Love it. 


'Hey Jimbo' drips with the flair of iconic rock acts such as Lenny Kravitz, but is truly defined by the distinctive folk, blues and rock styles intertwined perfectly by McHugh. Featuring thundering drums, slick guitar riffs, a pounding baseline and McHugh's catchy vocal lines. 'Hey Jimbo' is everything you would want from a modern mixed rock tune.  

Rua Media