Josh Hyde, “The Call of the Night” (Independent)

Though he isn’t exactly a household name in the Pelican State music scene, singer-songwriter/guitarist Josh Hyde isn’t a stranger, either. Since 1998, he’s released five self-produced albums, and he occasionally plays the Crescent City with pal/keyboardist John Gros. On his sixth album, he goes for broke, enlisting notable Nashville producer Joe V. McMahan to helm these sessions recorded at Dockside Studio. Gros jammed on six of the nine tracks while another old friend, slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, dropped by to play on two others.

Yet it’s hardly a case of fancy wrapping paper and pretty, silky bows without substantive content inside. Hyde’s intriguing songs, written over a dark period, have merit to warrant this step up in production. Stylistically, it’s his most diverse platter yet, a rootsy concoction with slippery, sneaky funk (“The Truth,” “Need a Lil More”) being the most prominent. Landreth gives “Offshore” a blitzing space-age attack.

Interestingly, the rollicking country-ish “Mississippi Bridge” was Hyde’s first song ever, written at age 11 when he took the all too familiar, frequent bus rides between Baton Rouge and Alexandria to visit family. A few depict despair, loneliness and unresolved tensions that are shrouded in mystery. As a guitarist, Hyde meticulously develops his solos into something meaningful instead of relying on artificial flash and dash.

Just as his songs run the gamut, so do his vocals, sometimes sounding world-weary soulful, other times Curtis Mayfield silky high (“I’ve Got This Song”). Lyrically, Hyde’s songs often end somewhat unexpectedly. He’s not one to repeat himself once he’s made his point.