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Nashville-based Will Hoge has been making records since 2001, and up till recently had gained critical acclaim but not the recognition deserved. Some of the latter discrepancy was put right when in 2012 when the Eli Young Band gained a country chart topper with their cover of his song “Even If it Breaks Your Heart”. The song also gained Hoge nominations at the CMA, ACM and Grammy Awards, and a bunch of prime gigs as he got to play Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and The Late Show with David Letterman.
Hoge’s progressive music though strong, and able to hold its own against anyone more than anything are his superbly crafted stories, he certainly tells a good one. Uncomplicated in presentation, even the complex ones that deal with emotions of the heart and the ways of human nature it is still easy to digest, and with his distinctive style he places his music on a higher shelf. It could be said he is just now really hitting his stride. He certainly feels re-energised after admitting to falling out of love with music and playing in a band, now he feels more in control and Anchors demonstrates creative.
Of the 11 tracks none come any finer than killer evocative love ballad “This Grand Charade”, a song about a couple growing apart the story is an all too familiar one. Stripped down, as is the album in general his lyrics are gently warmed in guitar, piano (Dave Cohen) and mandolin, and with the above lost love ballad behind him he gives hope to those experiencing a similar slipping away feel as the couple in the song work on getting this life back on track on “Little Bit Of Rust” (Sheryl Crow figures strongly on harmony vocals). The album has one or two songs that speak of a relationship falling apart, and in some cases marooned on the rocks as Hoge dips into people’s fears and everyday lives! After a couple of average efforts he is back on the winning trail with “Through Missing You” and full bodied ode “Angel Wings”. This as he is given the jolt needed to realise he was allowing his life to drift without any real purpose (Kaplan’s pedal steel work colours the lyrics beautifully), and with his vocals possessing a rich timbre the listener can’t but help been dragged into the song’s scenario. A co-write with Randall, I wonder if that is noted singer-songwriter Jon Randall?
While the title track is solid, and arguably a slow burner his talent is seen in better light on image evoking “17”, and with him inevitably at his best when the music doesn’t encroach on his lyrics the song is an excellent balance between Americana and a purer country form.
Pickers on the record include Jerry Roe (drums, percussion), Dominic Davis (bass), Thom Donovan (electric, acoustic guitar), Brad Rice (electric, acoustic guitar, mandola) and Fats Kaplan (pedal steel guitar) plus Hoge (acoustic, electric guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes, percussion).
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