Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Nothing gets glossed over, if Will Hoge has anything to do with it. It's almost as if he's incapable of bullshitting. He decries calling something a flower if it's really a weed. He's a writer and a man unwilling to try to breathe life into something that's mostly lifeless. He's going to lay his cards down and if they make you weep, they make you weep. And if they make you weep, there's a chance he's not all that crazy about them either because that's just the kind of guy he is. He knows that good feelings don't just appear out of thin air and they don't come without the tendrils of sour times and bad blood, clinging to them like stray threads and past scents.
Hoge, the Nashville native, creates climates that are frustrated sets of spaces and people, just trying to bang their heads through their walls so that they can finally get over to the other side, where there's still no guarantee that things are going to be improved, but they'll be different and potentially better than they are now. He sings about false hope and about being sold tonics that just don't work. There are no active ingredients to be found in them and they wind up to be empty calories - nothing to chew on or digest.
He sings about California - and not just any California, but a goddamned California - a place that no one ever warns you can be deceptively cold and gross. He's had to learn not to believe in the sunshine. Hoge writes frequently about perception and reality and the lines that people are so willing to be hooked on. They'll take the bait and they'll sink with those full bellies. He sings, "Real life ain't the movies, bathed in black and white…/If this was a movie, I say, 'I just don't give a damn,'" on his 2011 album, "Number Seven." He sings about being "somewhere down the lonely streets of gold," but makes you believe that the gold you think you see might just been the streetlamps gleaming off of the piss.