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Southern rock, soul highlight self-released album

Will Hoge.jpg

Most of the time, life as a musician is not as glamorous as one might think. For every pop star profiled on an episode of VH1’s The Glamorous Life, there are many who can barely put enough gas in the tour bus to get to the next gig.

While some cry over Internet piracy and lost sales, others beg to have people hear their material. These are the themes Nashville, Tenn.-based singer-songwriter Will Hoge (above) ponders on his third studio long-player, The Man Who Killed Love.

With a title like that, and with a song called “Love From a Scar,” it’s easy to conclude that Hoge is just writing about another love lost. In a way he is, but instead a woman’s affection, the love just might be the passion for his art.

The first track, “Pocket Full of Change,” is a test-of-faith type of song in a southern rock style a la The Black Crowes or Georgia Satellites. It puts a playful spin on some of the questions often asked of artists, as Hoge sings: “After every single show, people always want to know/Why aren’t ya played on the radio?” These are questions Hoge just might wonder to himself. His answer?

“Because the man in Hollywood says we ain’t any good.”

The “man” he is referring to would seem to be an employee of Atlantic Records, the label that put out Hoge’s Blackbird on a Lonely Wire in 2003. Since then, Hoge has released a live record and an independent EP, and the current self-released CD was launched via his Web site. Without the luxury of a major label, Hoge is trying to maintain his audience with constant touring and some help from his page on the popular networking site

His lyrics on The Man Who Killed Love are heartache-meets-forgiveness, much like the ’60s soul stylings that are spread throughout. Hoge included a horn section and some fine gospel vocal backups on “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and “July Moon.” He does wander off a bit with the ballad “Lover Tonight,” which has a string arrangement that doesn’t quite fit the structure of the album.

But Hoge does not make that mistake on the gut-wrenching, Otis Redding-like ballad “Woman Be Strong,” a love song to those who stay at home, while the band is on the road, paying its dues.

— By Michael Corby