People choose to express anger and frustration with the status quo in a variety of ways, and it has served to spark creativity in many musicians over the years.
The latest self produced, crowd funded album from Will Hoge, “ American Dream” , released on 5th October via EDLO/Thirty Tigers, is one such example. Coming hot on the heels of his 2017 release “ Anchors” the eight self-penned tracks are inspired by current issues close to his heart which he couldn’t keep contained . It sees him angry, very angry indeed, concerned about the world his kids are growing up in and also afraid of losing what he holds
dear, something which is expressed so well in the title track captured in a live performance here
To quote Will, “Those things kept me up at night — and this record was less expensive than therapy ”
Guitar and drums really drive this album sonically, it’s out and out rock a lot of the time ( “ Stupid Kids “ which he describes as an anthem to never lose that youthful, fighting spirit and “ Nikki’s A Republican Now” ) but with Hoge being born, raised and still living in Nashville there are definitely elements of country within his music and this album is no exception.
A track a lot of you reading this will no doubt be familiar with already is “ Thoughts and Prayers”, the first that was completed for this collection and which was released not long after he had released his last album. Hoge is a passionate advocate for gun reform and this song takes its inspiration from the proliferation of shootings Stateside ( he started to write it the day 26 people were killed by a gunman in a church in Texas, which occurred less than a month after the massacre at the Route 91Harvest Festival ). Its stripped back arrangement is in stark contrast to the remainder of the album, perfect for drawing attention to the lyrics. It sees him critical of politicians who consider offering their ” thoughts and prayers” to victims and their families via social media to be an adequate response to such atrocities. This hard hitting video accompanies the single.
Even if you haven’t heard that track before, you will be left in no doubt from album opener “ Gilded Walls” what is in store. Will expresses his frustration with what he considers politician’s indifference and denial in a country who’s future he fears for, a recurring theme throughout. ” Well I guess you don’t need clean air to breathe when you think you’ll be just fine …….I work two jobs ….while you’re living on everything your daddy left behind , and it’s clear you don’t care about the folk down here inside your guilded walls that shine” he sings at the start of the number which builds both instrumentally and vocally. Angry lead guitar ( courtesy of Thom Donovan) compliments Will’s vitriolic vocals, reminding me of BJ Barham on American Aquarium’s latest album, which at times also tackles some similar political issues.
Other issues tackled on the album are his call for the removal of the Confederate flag in “Still A Southern Man” ( he’s still proud of his roots but deeply ashamed too ) and in “The Illegal Line “ he relays the moving story of an immigrant crossing the border to the US ( considered the “ holy land” ) in search of work in order to send money back to his family to give them a better life .” $4 an hour but nobody moans, ‘cos it’s $3.50 more than we can get back home” he sings. Arrest follows …” there’s rules boys and this just ain’t the way” the judge tells him, and he ends up in jail “ 50 miles north of that illegal line”. This is possibly my favourite on the album alongside the slowest paced track “ Oh Mr Barnum” which as you can no doubt guess cleverly uses a circus analogy, describing politicians broken promises ……” You told us all that this would be the biggest show that we have ever seen … now the crowd is getting restless thinking that you lied…….oh Mr Barnum won’t you please take your circus back home”.
I’ve read a fair bit of criticism from Will’s fans ( ex fans now it seems) saying he’s a musician, not a politician, and as such shouldn’t be expressing his views as he does on this album but concentrate on entertaining. I’m
sorry, but if you are a creative being you are going to be driven to express your thoughts and feelings about a wide range of things in your life, and to totally turn against an artist you’ve supported in the past because you don’t share their views on whatever it is they are inspired by is to disrespect their creativity in my opinion. On his Pledge Music page he says “ If I’m going to alienate folks then I guess it’s doing its job. If they aren’t willing to be challenged, if they don’t like the songs, then don’t buy the record. It’s that simple”.
My American Dream Track Listing:
Still A Southern Man
Oh Mr. Barnum
Thoughts & Prayers
My American Dream
The Illegal Line
Nikki’s A Republican Now
Will returns to the UK later this year, tickets on sale now, and of course check out his website/socials to keep abreast of all his news www.willhoge.com
WILL HOGE | 2018 UK TOUR DATES
05. Glasgow, Stereo
06. Manchester, The Deaf Institute
07. London, The Garage
08. Brighton, The Haunt
09. Bristol, Thekla