For two decades, Will Hoge has carried the torch for American rock & roll, carving out his own blue-collar sound rooted in amplified guitars, melodic hooks, southern soul, and rootsy stomp. It’s a sound that nods to the best moments of the past—the punch of Tom Petty’s anthems; the countrified twang of Buck Owens’ singing; the raw, greasy cool of the Rolling Stones—while still pushing forward into new territory with Hoge’s storytelling and larger-than-life voice leading the charge on his new self-produced album, Tiny Little Movies, which will be released June 26 via Thirty Tigers. The album’s first single ‘The Curse’ is now available on all platforms and the song’s video is streaming at NPR Music. Recorded live for Public Radio Music Day, the ‘The Curse’ video finds Hoge and his band rollicking through Tiny Little Movies’ penultimate track within the painted, story-drenched walls of Nashville’s East Iris Studios.
With a strong acoustic guitar strum and snare drum backbeat, ‘Midway Motel’ opens Tiny Little Movies in a throwback rock and roll splendour, setting the tone well for an album in which Hoge chose to highlight the raw chemistry of his road band. After tackling the arrangements over four days in an East Nashville rehearsal space, Hoge, guitarist Thom Donovan, drummer Allen Jones, and bassist Christopher Griffiths headed into Trace Horse Studio and tracked each song live, together and inspired. ‘There’s a classic, rock & roll centrepiece to everything this band does, but it’s still a group of four different people, and we all bring different influences to the table,’ says Hoge, who turned to Grammy-winning producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Lori McKenna) to mix the album at Sam Phillips Recording. “We’ve got a metalhead in the group. We’ve got a Motown fan. We’ve got a guitarist who loves Johnny Marr. It’s a unique hodgepodge of sounds coming together, and we tried to accentuate that.”
The album quickly settles into “Maybe This Is Ok,” an autobiographical song that finds Hoge chasing down inner peace with the realization that he’s done pretty well for himself, mistakes and all. On the atmospheric ‘Even the River Runs Out Of This Town’, Hoge pines for the one who got away or, more accurately, the one he allowed to get away, knowing she’d only be dragged down by his presence. “I love you so much, I ain’t asking you to stick around,” he sings during the song’s final moments. With a melodic guitar and bass intro that could just as easily be on a late-era Beatles record, ‘That’s How You Lose Her’ quickly gives way to full-on Bob Seger arena rock; recalling all the wrong moves in the final days of a love-gone-wrong. Tiny Little Movies may nod to the heartland rockers who came before Hoge, but this is an album that stands in a theatre of its own, accented by everything from the country storytelling of Hoge’s southern roots to the soulful sway of his voice.
“I grew up loving rock & roll records, and that’s my intent every time I go into the studio — to honour that sound,” he says. “You get closer sometimes more than others. This time, I think we nailed it.” The sound complements the songs on Tiny Little Movies, and the songs add more depth to Hoge’s career-spanning catalogue of love lost, stories told, and lessons learned; a little wiser and more patient with each new album. “I spent years worried about things falling apart—personally, musically, emotionally, financially, you name it,” Hoge recalls. “As I’ve gotten better at my life, there’s a moment of realizing that this is it. It is where it is supposed to be. So I’ve been looking around, embracing the good and the bad, hoping to change what I can, and accepting the things I can’t.” It’s Hoge at his best; raw, amplified, and inspired, with enough hunger to keep him inspired and enough contentment to add perspective to his rougher edges.
More About Will Hoge: ‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’—a tribute to his musical upbringing in Franklin, TN, just 30 miles south of Nashville—became a crowd favourite when it appeared on Will Hoge’s 2009 album, The Wreckage, then grew into a Number One country hit when Eli Young Band covered it in 2012. One year later, Hoge earned another smash with ‘Another Song Nobody Will Hear’, a duet with Wade Bowen that topped the Texas charts. When a life-threatening car collision left a battered, broken Hoge in recovery for a year, he turned the experience into fuel for his music and his own heightened appreciation for life. He also learned to trust his own instincts, producing a number of his own albums—as well as albums for Red Wanting Blue, Stephen Kellogg, and up-and-coming songwriter Jackie Darlene — while releasing records like 2013’s Never Give In and 2015’s Small Town Dreams on his own label, Cumberland Recordings. 2018 found Hoge releasing My American Dream, a sharply-worded protest album which tackled everything from political corruption to social issue. Those progressive stripes, along with Hoge’s now-classic song-crafting style, have woven their way into his new release Tiny Little Movies, out June 26th via Thirty Tigers.
Artist’s website: https://www.willhoge.com/