Understandably a triumphant record given its maker’s recovery from serious injury.
Sid Smith 2010
The Wreckage has all the clamour and zeal of a man given a second chance in life. This isn’t surprising since a collision with a van in 2008 took Will Hoge from touring barrooms in the States into the emergency room to battle for his life. Alongside learning to walk again, the Tennessee-born artist has begun to reconstruct a career with this fourth studio album.
Best known for relentlessly working the USA live circuit, Hoge offers an agreeable, if uncomplicated, Americana travelogue that stomps and struts along familiar highways and well-known vignettes. Broken romances, bourbon-soaked nights, fighting to stay ahead of the game, overcoming the odds and wondering if it’s all worthwhile in the end – these themes pepper music that is grounded in pulsing lead guitars, crashing chords and strident beats, all burnished with smouldering organ undertow.
Tracks such as Favourite Waste of Time and Long Gone are catchy, good-time rockers designed to rev up an audience, whilst on Hard to Love, it’s almost impossible not to be reminded of Bruce Springsteen in all his pomp. And it’s to his credit that, in light of such comparisons, Hoge acquits himself admirably.
Besides a nice line in celebratory rowdiness, Hoge also excels with ballads and up-close narratives. What Could I Do, for example, allows for more soulful stretches than can be grasped at on his high-octane crowd-pleasers, the likes of which dominate this album. Here, though, little flourishes of psych-drenched Mellotron go a long way to add texture and subvert expectations.
Given the dire circumstances from which it was born, The Wreckage is understandably a triumphant record. But it comes complete with enough self-reflection to avoid coming across as yet another bright and breezy album about cars and girls.