The last few years have seen an outpouring of politically-driven music spanning many genres. This has come with some controversy, with many listeners suggesting that “politics has no place in music.” However, the truth of the matter is that music and politics have had a long history of intermingling. From Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” to Jason Isbell’s “White Man’s World,” songwriters have long used their craft as a platform for making political statements. Will Hoge is no exception, and his no-punches-pulled album My American Dream (EDLO Records) is a masterwork of personal ideological revelations and observant, allegorical storytelling.
Recorded over the course of only three days at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, this high-energy record’s sound is defined by a thunderous performance by Hoge and his band. With Thom Donovan on lead guitar, Chris Griffiths on bass, and Allen Jones on Drums, Hoge’s trusty backing band serves each song with strong performances and technical ability. Hoge sat in the producer’s chair for this session, with Grammy Award winning engineer Ray Kennedy gracefully handling the final mixes.
The album covers a wide range of topics, told by several narrators. Hoge’s lyrical approach brings together the experiences of many groups of people struggling in this country. “My American Dream,” “The Illegal Line,” “Stupid Kids,” and “Gilded Walls” showcase Hoge’s concern for the little guys, those who have been marginalized, overlooked, ridiculed, and take advantage of. Hoge makes commentary on mass-shootings in the emotion-fueled solo number “Thoughts and Prayers”, berating politicians who choose to mourn and not act. This song is the heart and soul of the album, with Hoge laying it all out in a desperate plea. “Oh Mr Barnum” equates our modern political system to a failing circus, promising more than it can deliver. In “Still a Southern Man,” Hoge weighs in on the controversy over the Confederate flag, stating that southern identity does not have to be defined by the past. Closing out the album, the band cuts loose in the punk-infused stomper “Nikki’s a Republican Now,” a semi-farcical piece playing on the archetypes of both political affiliations.
My American Dream is topical, intelligent, and just plain fun to listen to. The album plays like a soundtrack to the times we live in. Whether you agree with his viewpoints or not, it’s more important than ever to listen to artists like Hoge who are willing to hold up to their convictions. Hoge may come off angry and abrasive in some of his lyrics, yet through it all he’s still clearly genuine. You can tell at the core of it all, he’s a concerned parent, scared for the world his kids will grow up in. Get your copy here: http://www.willhoge.com/