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WILL HOGE —ANCHORS (Edlo Records / Thirty Tigers)

www.willhoge.com

www.thirtytigers.com

 

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).   

 

                                                Maurice Hope 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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