On October 5, Nashville singer/songwriter Will Hoge returns with a new album, My American Dream. The release features eight songs of rabble-rousing political commentary that turns a critical eye on the crisis of conscience and culture threatening to tear apart his country. The album is Hoge’s impassioned portrait of what he holds dear — and what we all might risk losing.
The first song that Hoge completed was “Thoughts & Prayers,” inspired directly by the mass of school shootings and the inept response of politicians. The song is an acoustic ballad in which Hoge asks, “Why don’t you do your job up there? Keep your thoughts and prayers.” It’s a raw, fiery song with just Hoge and his guitar, belting out his frustrations in the recording booth. In addition, Hoge is a member of the Music Council of Everytown For Gun Safety, which aims to bring more Americans and music fans into the gun safety movement. For the “Thoughts & Prayers” video, Hoge has boldly highlighted politicians tweets into a masterful piece of art.
Recorded in Nashville at Sound Emporium, Hoge incorporated his touring band into his permanent lineup: Thom Donavan (lead guitar), Chris Griffiths (bass) and Allen Jones (drums). Hoge took the production reins, while celebrated Nashville producer Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Ray Davies) was enlisted for mixing duties.
On My American Dream, Hoge puts himself in someone else’s shoes, be it the homeless heartland worker who watched his job prospects head overseas on “My American Dream” or the Mexican immigrant crossing the border to provide for his family on “Illegal Line.” At their core, both songs are about empathy. “At the end of the day, that’s really what folks are after, is just to be treated with some respect,” he says. He knows how fragile life can be, having been left in critical condition by a scooter accident 10 years ago. “I was on the brink of things being a disaster. I started to see how quickly, even someone who’s working hard, can end up in a situation and not see a way out.”
Hoge’s acclaimed 2001 debut Carousel established himself as a masterful songwriter, performer and critical favorite. Rolling Stone compared him to Bob Seger and John Mellencamp, while NPR praised his “sharp, smart, passionate rock ‘n’ roll that seems to exist out of time.” My American Dream is the follow-up to Hoge’s 2017 album Anchors.
When Ryan Cullwell released his critically acclaimed 2015 album Flatlands, Rolling Stone hailed the collection as both “gorgeous and bleak,” and the intervening years of the Texas native’s life could be described in similarly contradictory terms. Culwell has touched the top and scraped the bottom, known true joy and faced pure sorrow, been blessed with luck and cursed by tough breaks. He welcomed daughters number three and four into the world, only to nearly lose his life working odd jobs just to make ends meet.
It’s been a beautiful, brutal time for Culwell, one that he’s woven into the fabric of his most stunning songs yet with The Last American, his third album and debut release for Missing Piece Records. Recorded in his adopted hometown of Nashville, the collection showcases Culwell at his finest, crafting poignant portraits of ordinary folks just trying to get by, men and women doing their best to make it through the day with dignity and self-respect in these trying times.