There’s no shortage of troubled troubadours documenting the legacy of America’s rural environs and the places where dreams and desire are frequently spawned. For his part, Will Hoge recognizes that even the most indelible epics are essentially born from individual ordeals. Nevertheless, for all the ache and desperation these narratives entail, Hoge’s resolute attitude, defiance and determination are the emotions that rise to the fore.
In that regard, Hoge manages to position himself between those two pillars of populist rock, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp. It’s not that his voice bears any special resemblance to either; less blustery than Bruce and not as folksy as that Indiana icon, he nevertheless has a knack for creating songs that germinate from the travails of everyday individuals, people that struggle to survive in everyday circumstance. “Sometimes this world has a way of wearing you down day by day,” he sings on “Little Bit of Rust,” a blue collar lament that aptly sums up the sentiment of those down on their luck but undeterred by defeat.
Likewise, on the song “This Grand Charade” he owns up to his failures by insisting “The truth is we made a mistake, we ain’t that happy couple on the wedding cake.” It’s revelatory and revealing, but also courageous in a sense, given his willingness to share his vulnerability and despair.
Granted, the fact that he seizes on these sadder sentiments doesn’t exactly ensure a happy listen. Fortunately, there are instances where Hoge finds continued cause for redemption. “Love ain’t always easy, it don’t always last,” he admits on “Baby’s Eyes,” a song that describes the ways remorse can sometimes lead to redemption. Anthemic at times, downtrodden at others, Hoge’s ragged resolve is unerringly affecting regardless. Never one to come across as a poser or pretender, Hoge makes songs that sink beneath the skin and resonate accordingly. Ultimately then, Anchors possesses a decided determination that goes a long way when it comes to asserting both his acumen and his authority.