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album obsession: never give in

January 7, 2014

NGII’m finally crawling out of website hibernation to rave about how I can’t stop listening to Will Hoge’s latest album Never Give In. I could give you a long list of reasons why that mercury sound has been sadly neglected over the past few months but I’d much rather give you an even longer list of reasons why you should go to Amazon and download Never Give In right now. (The first reason being that it is currently $5, which is really just icing on the cake.)

Will Hoge has been a favorite of mine for years, appearing on this site several times. Recently Hoge has tasted some major mainstream success, first with the Eli Young Band covering “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” from his fabulous 2009 album The Wreckage. While their version pales in comparison to Hoge’s original, it climbed the charts in 2012, hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot Country list and earning Hoge and co-writer Eric Paslay a Grammy Nomination for Best Country Song. More recently “Strong,” the closing track on Never Give In, has been featured in a national campaign for heartland-favorite Chevrolet trucks.

While Hoge’s latest successes have been squarely in the country music realm, he is anything but straight-ahead country. His music is driven by incredible songwriting, an unforgettable voice, and the kind of authentic roots rock sound that only comes from south of the Mason-Dixon.

Never Give In is a true return to form for Hoge. His previous album, Modern American Protest Music, while notable for its strong social and political messaging was never able to hook me the way his other albums had. But Never Give In is quickly turning into Never Turn Off in my house…

There isn’t a dud song on the album for me, and the range of tunes is expansive. From the rocking opening riffs of “Different Man” to the infectious melody of “Still Got You On My Mind” to the forlorn contemplation of “Damn Spotlight” this album spins like a big beautiful 33 1/3 LP. The ordering and pacing of songs begs you to break that pesky mp3 single downloading habit. It’s winter in Minnesota so this is clearly impossible, but I can’t wait for the first spring day when I can roll my windows down and drive somewhere far away enough to play this baby all the way through.

So really, spend the five dollars and kick off 2014 with a damn good album. Then, when Hoge and the boys hit the road again later this year, catch them. He’s still playing intimate venues and doesn’t cost much to see, but I can’t guarantee it will stay that way forever…

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