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, out today via Thirty Tigers. In the days leading up to Tiny Little Movies’ release, Associated Press called the album “Compelling soundtrack material for the progressive political movement,” adding “whether the subject is politics or romance, Hoge sings with a hungry heart.” Rolling Stone also praised Hoge’s passionate and direct songwriting, saying, “Content but far from complacent...On Tiny Little Movies, Hoge doesn’t sugarcoat tough topics.” Fans can see Hoge and his band play the album’s first single, “The Curse,” recorded live for Public Radio Music Day at NPR Music, and Tiny Little Movies be streamed or purchased here.
With a strong acoustic guitar strum and snare drum backbeat, “Midway Motel” opens Tiny Little Movies in a throwback rock and roll splendor, 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 centerpiece 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 theater 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 honor 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 catalog 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.
In light of shelter in place orders nationwide, Will Hoge has momentarily been trading the road for the world wide web with a series of webcasts from his home in Nashville. Hoge has been on a roll with his My House To Your House Tour. Tonight, June 26th, at 5pm Central, Hoge will host a special album release webcast.
Tiny Little Movies Tracklisting:
Maybe This Is Ok
Is This All That You Wanted Me For
Even The River Runs Out Of This Town
That’s How You Lose Her
Con Man Blues
Likes Of You
All The Pretty Horses