Preview Anchors by Will Hoge.
Anchors by Will Hoge
Artful song lyrics walk a tightrope: they are specific enough to be believable yet general enough to be universal. On his new album Anchors, Will Hoge presents 11 hook-filled tunes about love--gone wrong or going strong--filled with details that give them real-life credibility.
Hoge’s music is mainstream Americana, a mix of country, rock and soul that comes with the polish of pop music. In fact, listening to the album, it's hard to understand why Hoge, a Grammy-nominated artist with 10 previous albums to his credit, is not better known. This is radio-ready music. The arrangements provide a perfect setting for each song and for his soulful voice, which has a sharp edge, a bit of gravel and a twang. Every tune here displays his mastery as a songwriter and performer.
The title track exemplifies Hoge's songwriting skills in its use of telling details that make songs sound authentic. “Anchors” tells the familiar tale of young people who leave home to escape a troubled childhood but struggle with the problems they bring along. But the lyric contains vivid phrases like "firecracker skies" (for the Fourth of July) and well-chosen specifics, such as the narrator’s decision to study computers at night school. Even the chorus offers a novel turn of phrase.
Oh, the sins of the father / drag like anchors on the kids / C'mon, let's go a little farther / All the way to anywhere more than this
Another one of the standout tracks on the album is “Little Bit of Rust,” a full-on country rock song propelled by mandolin and fiddle as well electric guitars and drums. Joined by Sheryl Crow on back up vocals, Hoge takes on the persona of a husband talking to his wife about their long-lasting marriage.
Well, the truth is you could talk a little less / and I could listen a little more / But it ain't like anybody's walking out the door / So unless you got anything else to say / I'm going to go fire up that old Chevrolet
Honestly, I'm a sucker for upbeat tunes with clever lines and a hook (Who isn't?), This “Ain't an Original Sin” offers another sample of straight-ahead country rock, this time delivering a proposal to give in to love and lust that also manages to name-check Ferdinand Magellan and Neil Armstrong.
Part of the pleasure of the album is its variety. “Cold Night in Santa Fe” and “17” pile on soul influences, the latter with electric keyboard and horns that sound as if it could have come from the 70s (the part you wouldn't mind revisiting). “Angel's Wings” is classic country with weeping steel guitar while “Baby's Eyes” features the 12-string Rickenbacker jangle associated with Roger McGuinn and Tom Petty.
All in all, the album is filled with songs that could be hits, maybe should be hits. But don't wait for the radio to catch on. Get this album for yourself.