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Album Review
Will Hoge - The Wreckage Album Cover

Will Hoge - The Wreckage

Reviewed by
9.0
Will Hoge - The Wreckage
Record Label: Rykodisc
Release Date: Sept. 29, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
The music world got a scare in August of 2008 when much lauded Nashville songwriter Will Hoge was severely hurt in a motorcycle crash. The accident left Hoge with a bevy of broken bones (ribs, sternum, shattered femur, knee cap, shoulder blades), lacerations to his face, arms, and torso (requiring over 100 stitches), as well as other minor injuries. Since the crash, Hoge has underwent numerous surgical procedures and devoted hours of physical therapy in the hopes of getting back out on the road. Having given himself ample to heal and resume writing, he has returned with The Wreckage, his sixth studio release, and second on new home Rykodisc. Make no mistake, these eleven songs are most definitely his finest work to date, and continue to bolster the steadfast argument that there are few if any singer/songwriters writing better heartland rock than Will Hoge.

From front to back, The Wreckage is a gorgeous assortment of Midwestern roots-rock, whiskey-soaked ballads, and frothy guitar-driven rockers. Co-produced again by former Wilco member Ken Coomer and Charlie Bracco, and mixed by living legend Jim Scott, The Wreckage has all the hallmarks of the quintessential Hoge sound, while also displaying hints of something new. Hoge's raspy vocals have anchored much of his decade-long career, often using his strong-lunged timbre to soulfully convey the highs and lows of romance, touring and the world around us. While they're still on display throughout The Wreckage, there's a good chunk of softness and restraint in his delivery and the difference is what makes this so indelible. After dabbling into political commentary on The America EP at the early part of this decade, his last two efforts have found him back into familiar territory, detailing love, loss, heartbreak and indefatigability.

Sticking with that formula, The Wreckage is without a doubt, his most honest and most sincere release yet. Though he's shifted his songwriting style ever so slightly year by year, the alterations seem to have merit, as The Wreckage has nary a fault or glitch. Album opener "Harder to Love," is a near-perfect roots-rock charmer, replete with driving piano, bristling guitars and a comfortable confidence that is totally captivating. He displays his penchant for searing guitar-driven rock on the snappy "Long Gone," which has much of the tenacity and swerve of his 1998 live album Live at the Exit In, while also displaying a firm nod to the blues that he showcased on 2006's The Man Who Killed Love. The album then hits its most comfortable stride and rattles off four straight knockouts. Title track, "The Wreckage," is a sparse and airy meditation on romance that's backed by a brittle lap steel and tender vocals; whereas "Favorite Waste of Time," is a radio accessible exercise in jangle-pop that rolls along like a Marshall Crenshaw b-side.

Lead single, "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," follows and its a near-perfect four minutes in expertly executed roots-pop. Catchy, sublime and thoroughly intoxicating, the song is arguably one of the most honest singles released to radio this year and has all the trappings of an effort that will be reflected on for years to come. And yet, for all its charms, the real centerpiece of the disc is the leave-it-all-on-the-table ballad "What Could I Do," that bleeds with desperation, helplessness and some of the most desirous vocals of his career. Not one to let a filler track ruin his vision, Hoge pens a folksy, CSNY-ballad "Goodnight/Goodbye," with enough forlorn sentiment and bittersweet ache to make every word out of his mouth sound utterly enchanting. He ups the ante on the Tom Petty-esque rockers "Just Like Me," and "Highway Wings," with the former being a mid-tempo ode to self-deprecation, while the latter is a tale of life on the road and the Tennesseean's innate sense of wanderlust. The Wreckage wraps up with "Where We Do Go From Down," a cerebral meditation of a failed relationship which is extended on the gorgeous ballad, "Too Late Too Soon."

The inherent genius of Hoge is that many of his songs are tour-de-forces that drip with authenticity and fervor. Since his inception, he has written passionate, gritty music that's ablaze with color and fueled by an innate verve that's explosive, cathartic and utterly vintage. Armed with strong melodies and a genuine candor, Hoge always puts forth discs that are never forced, faked or fictitious. His craft is raw, creative energy that is free-spirited, individualistic and firmly committed to excellence. Sure, there's a good chunk of Springsteen and Petty in what he sings, but there's also a deeper commitment to staying relative and current. Moreover, The Wreckage, much like all his other efforts, is free of studio gimmicks. There's no studio gloss, no auto-tune, no programming and no vocoder. Just songs played as they were meant to be played, with an unwavering determination from a natural born rocker.

This is big-hearted, hip-shaking rock n' roll that's unabashedly emotive, lyrically potent and truly intoxicating. Summing it up best is Hoge himself who says this about his career, "I bust my ass every night, I load my own gear and mortgaged my house to pay the band. But if you want it, you have to be willing to bleed. In the end, I'm embarrassingly in love with rock and roll, it's all consuming." And in that spirit, so too is his music. Now six impeccable releases in, Hoge shows no signs of slowing down. And for that, the music world is utterly grateful.

Track Listing 1. Hard to Love (3:24)
2. Long Gone (2:51)
3. The Wreckage (3:33)
4. Favorite Waste of Time (3:11)
5. Even If It Breaks Your Heart (3:43)
6. What Could I Do (4:28)
7. Goodnight/Goodbye (4:24)
8. Just Like Me (3:28)
9. Highway Wings (3:24)
10. Where Do We Go From Down (3:45)
11. Too Late Too Soon (4:01)


Recommended If You Like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Wallflowers, The Damnwells, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers


Find Him Here Myspace
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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 17
07:33 AM on 09/28/09
#2
zachff
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Great review. Sounds like this guy went through some pretty serious stuff, will definitely give this a listen
08:04 AM on 09/28/09
#3
spansen
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i really liked this guy like 3-4 years ago.. but hadn't heard anything since. glad to see he's still around as i still like those old songs i got from purevolume back in high school.
08:20 AM on 09/28/09
#4
live.
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i really liked this guy like 3-4 years ago.. but hadn't heard anything since. glad to see he's still around as i still like those old songs i got from purevolume back in high school.
Me too! I used to blast "Not That Cool" all of the time. I have to listen to this.
08:45 AM on 09/28/09
#5
chowski
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Love Hoge.
11:16 AM on 09/28/09
#6
NationalProduct
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If you have not listened to this guys music, please take the time to scour thru a few tracks, your bound to find one that will keep you on repeat... for me, i would suggest Hey Tonight, When I Can Afford to Lose and Im Over You from his older stuff (only cause i have not listened to the new record yet)
11:28 AM on 09/28/09
#7
Gregory Robson
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If you have not listened to this guys music, please take the time to scour thru a few tracks, your bound to find one that will keep you on repeat... for me, i would suggest Hey Tonight, When I Can Afford to Lose and Im Over You from his older stuff (only cause i have not listened to the new record yet)
I endorse all three of those songs. But really, you can't go wrong with his discography. It's legitimately six top notch albums with little to no filler on any of them. Hard to find someone that consistent these days. Guy is unreal.
11:32 AM on 09/28/09
#8
NationalProduct
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I endorse all three of those songs. But really, you can't go wrong with his discography. It's legitimately six top notch albums with little to no filler on any of them. Hard to find someone that consistent these days. Guy is unreal.
yeah i agree, i was just throwing a few cause you know how hard it is, to actually love a band, and convince them to just go download a discography. He is amazing all around for sure... and im way stoked you chose to review him for this site! So cool!
12:49 PM on 09/28/09
#9
inthemidst
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This should be good. I've really been getting into singer/songwriters similar to Mr. Hoge.
02:06 PM on 09/29/09
Meeze
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I am happy you reviewed this, cause this review has brought Mr. Hoge to my attention...and my ears are soooo fucking grateful for that!
02:50 PM on 09/29/09
Gregory Robson
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I am happy you reviewed this, cause this review has brought Mr. Hoge to my attention...and my ears are soooo fucking grateful for that!
Its funny you say that. Every person I have ever introduced to his music, has said the same thing. Btw, your avatar is awesome.
02:52 PM on 09/29/09
Meeze
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Its funny you say that. Every person I have ever introduced to his music, has said the same thing. Btw, your avatar is awesome.
Gracias señor!
07:25 PM on 10/01/09
hogewildcarol
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Thanks for a great review. I saw Will for the first time last summer, about a month before his accident. His show totally blew me away, and I knew I was immediately hooked for life! Pure energy, and entertaining as they come. That night, I talked with Will after the show (he jumps off the stage and stays as long as it takes to talk with folks, sign autographs, take pix, etc...) and asked which CD I should buy. He recommended either "Draw the Curtains" or the live "Somewhere Again Tomorrow." I bought both, and by week's end, I bought EVERYTHING from his online store. Never have I been so impressed by an artist! Plus he's just such a nice, funny guy! Easy to love!
So... needless to say, I felt like the world kinda stopped turning when I heard about his accident. So very glad that he made it through the ordeal of the last year. Have been eagerly awaiting this new CD, and it has surpassed all expectations. Absolutely captivating!!! To cap it off, my husband just saw Will for the first time a few weeks ago. I bought him a copy of the CD, and he has it on constant replay as well. I've NEVER seen him so impressed with ANY artist or album... and he's exceedingly picky about music! If you haven't picked up this CD, do yourself a favor and get it. You will not regret it!!!
10:57 PM on 10/01/09
Gregory Robson
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Thanks for a great review. I saw Will for the first time last summer, about a month before his accident. His show totally blew me away, and I knew I was immediately hooked for life! Pure energy, and entertaining as they come. That night, I talked with Will after the show (he jumps off the stage and stays as long as it takes to talk with folks, sign autographs, take pix, etc...) and asked which CD I should buy. He recommended either "Draw the Curtains" or the live "Somewhere Again Tomorrow." I bought both, and by week's end, I bought EVERYTHING from his online store. Never have I been so impressed by an artist! Plus he's just such a nice, funny guy! Easy to love!
So... needless to say, I felt like the world kinda stopped turning when I heard about his accident. So very glad that he made it through the ordeal of the last year. Have been eagerly awaiting this new CD, and it has surpassed all expectations. Absolutely captivating!!! To cap it off, my husband just saw Will for the first time a few weeks ago. I bought him a copy of the CD, and he has it on constant replay as well. I've NEVER seen him so impressed with ANY artist or album... and he's exceedingly picky about music! If you haven't picked up this CD, do yourself a favor and get it. You will not regret it!!!
So glad to hear that story. How'd you find this review?
07:14 AM on 10/05/09
Absolute Hogie
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Its funny you say that. Every person I have ever introduced to his music, has said the same thing.

I turned on so many fans I can't even count them anymore. If a copy of Blackbird or Carousel won't do the trick, bring them to a live show. He puts on the best live show I've ever seen. So much heart and energy, you can't help leave a lifelong fan.

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