By: Bill Clifford
Will Hoge has been writing, recording and performing his music throughout the Southeast for almost a decade. A captivating and riveting live performer, he signed with Atlantic Records, and in 2003 released his major label debut, Blackbird On A Lonely Wire, which went largely un-promoted, and he was subsequently released from his contract. Undaunted, he's gone on to release the politically charged America EP and more recently the full-length album, The Man Who Killed Love. Throughout his tenure, he's continued to release limited edition live recordings, which brings us to the current release.
With a title that references his non-stop touring, Again Somewhere Tonight captures Hoge where his career began, in Nashville, Tennessee., live at the Exit/In. For those unfamiliar with Hoge, it's as good a jumping off point as any, summing up much of what he's recorded since the Blackbird at its scorching and scathing best.
The Heartland harmonica that opens the CD on "The Man Who Killed Love" is a giveaway for the Springsteen influence he wears on his sleeve, only to succumb to the pure adrenaline rush of a straight-ahead rocker. The bleeding, stinging twin guitars of Hoge and Adam Fluhrer propel this searing rave-up. Then, the tone changes abruptly as horns and backing vocals takeover on the Memphis soul-infused "Love From A Scar." In fact, Ericka Smith's gospel drenched backing vocals are the real standout on this performance. Going deeper into his catalogue, "Bible VS Gun" shows sensitive, dramatic songwriting flare, written as a letter home to a mother from a soldier. It's a sentiment that could have come as easily from a World War II hero or an Iraqi freedom fighter.
Three tracks make this live collection a must have for Hoge fans. The previously unreleased "Sunshine Burn" is a mellow but heartfelt ballad that goes out to his longtime fans. Hoge balances his rhythmic guitar swells against thick church bell organ laid down by Jefferson Crow. Taking a completely different tact, the homespun "Southern Belle" is a piano-driven, three-minute southern rocker ala Chuck Berry. Finally, the elegant love ballad "Lover Tonight," which has become a show closer by default, poetically brings things to an end. Here, Hoges' whiskey soaked, raspy vocals play sweetly against Crow's lush piano balladry.
Luckily, Will Hoge has landed with a talented booking agent, and has been making his way into markets outside of the South. Again Somewhere Tonight is a fine example of his songwriting and performing prowess, but it's just a taste of what one should expect to see and hear in the flesh.
JamBase | Deep South
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