Hoge returns with a strong set of songs forged in lockdown but full of widescreen stories.
Will Hoge’s twenty year career has been an extended essay of blue collar country with rocky tones and this new one is no exception, perhaps it could even be argued that this is a distillation of his tropes. That’s not to say that this is a bad thing, far from it. Recorded pretty much live with as few overdubs as possible the record bristles with a muscularity borne of a well drilled band playing together for the love of the songs. The material, mainly penned during lockdown, features both reflectiveness ‘Queenie’ and ‘The Last One To Go’ being prime examples and straight ahead narratives such as ‘All I Can Take’ a stomping rocker that goes at a furious lick with Hoge shouting out the lyrics over a thunderous riff that could be early Petty and the Heartbreakers such is the ferocity. In fact the sheer attack of ‘All I Can Take’ slightly undermines the more measured tracks such as ‘It Ain’t How It Used To Be’, with its tale lamenting the disappearing small town America and the Mom and Pop world. Hoge accepts that things are better but a wistful gaze in the rear view mirror acknowledges the passing of time and the value of nostalgia in small doses. The album closes with the pedal steel laden pre released track ‘Whose God Is This?’ which is musically as close to traditional country as the album gets and is notable for its direct addressing of the issue of Trump in American society. Hoge’s not happy!
If you like you Americana with peeling guitars and a whiff of Nashville tradition coupled with astute lyricism then Hoge’s your man and with its strong songwriting and balanced palette of styles “Wings on my Shoes” is as good a place to start as any.
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