POLICE DOG HOGAN – Westward Ho! (Union Music Store UMS007)

PDH3Westward Ho! is the third album by Police Dog Hogan – or “the band that I’m in” if you’re a regular reader of Tim Dowling’s Guardian Weekend column. Dowling downplays his band in the cause of humour, making it sound like it’s him and a couple of mates from the pub continually amazed that they’ve got a gig. In fact, Police Dog Hogan is an accomplished seven-piece band – or eight if you count trumpeter Emily Norris who is pretty much a fixture.

They play an English style of Americana with a solid foundation of bass, drums and guitar topped with banjo, fiddle, mandolin and accordion. The Englishness comes from literate lyrics and the subject matter. ‘A Man Needs A Shed’ wouldn’t mean much in the mid-west until you explain that British houses don’t have vast basements, the one bit of transatlantic culture that I actually envy. PDH have also created that great rarity, a song based on an English place name that works: ‘Crackington’ is a tiny coastal village in Cornwall. They pull off the same trick with ‘West Country Boy’ which cites both Ilfracombe and Fowey.

The album kicks off with ‘Thunderheads’, a rags to rags story sung by James Studholme in the style that Johnny Cash would have adopted had he come from Berkshire. It’s a classic piece of country-rock and it’s followed by ‘One Size Fits All’ and you’re in a roadhouse just outside Memphis listening to songs of heartache and drinking one too many beers.

‘Buffalo’ is in the style of a lost song from 19th century America and I was half convinced that it was authentic, which shows how good the writing is. “I made up songs out of snake-oil and pain” sings James in ‘From The Land Of Miracles’ and, you know, he really does. You might get the impression that I rather like this album and you’d be right. It’s one I could happily keep on repeat and they come by very rarely.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.policedoghogan.com/

The official ‘Thunderheads’ video:

Folking.com’s very own Paul Johnson, and the Folking.com team look forward to covering the New Forest Folk Festival again this year with bigger and better coverage.

Paul will be at The New Forest Folk Festival bringing folking.com coverage and as many of his audio interviews with the performers as he can grab and Lewis Beech will be face-booking, insta-gramming and Tweeting from the festival all weekend. ~ find out more here ~

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