Police Dog Hogan
Major Tom Records
Filling a Much Needed Gap In British Folk Rock.
Many moons ago (2009ish?) I was with Mrs Magpie in London Town and put out a Tweet asking if there were any gigs on near where we were staying that night.
I received two replies, and for some reason that I can’t recollect; probably the 100 Club venue ( ?) we decided on going to see Police Dog Hogan; and what a blast we had; not least because the support act were The Arlenes who were ably assisted by the legendary BJ Cole on pedal-steel.
I subsequently reviewed their next/first two albums for Maverick Magazine, then as I went solo coincidently the band’s stars aligned and they became ever more famous, meaning I didn’t get to hear the next two albums.
So; it was a mixture of excitement and intrigue when I received this a couple of weeks ago and pressed ‘play’ on the car stereo.
Hmmm; the first time I heard opening track Hold On I was a little confused; as it wasn’t quite what I expected …… which shouldn’t have really been a surprise as I haven’t heard a not of theirs for ten years or more.
Now I’ve played the album a few times it’s really grown on me; and that particular song is now the perfect way to start the show.
It’s Folk Rock for sure; but with what sounds like an added brass section; but is actually only Emily Norris and of course the distinctive sound of James Studholme’s angsty vocals on a song with a great hook and chorus.
While I’ve played this a few times in the house; the car is certainly the best way; short of at a gig, to listen this compelling variety of intimate songs; that invariably are wrapped inside a powerhouse melody; none more so than Might As Well Be, Disappear and Cage of Hope too.
The fascinating Here Comes Crow turns out to be “completely autobiographical”as Studholme explains in the notes; “That crow tormented me for weeks in the first spring lockdown,” he says, “coming just as the first light turned the windows into mirrors. He saw his reflection as an arch enemy, moving round the house window by window attacking himself.” Which may or may not be a metaphor for how many of us feel as the Pandemic shows no sign of leaving us any time soon.
For me though; the best songs on this album are the tender Room in That Bottle, I Need Your Love and the beautiful Kathleen O’Hare too.
Without sounding like either; Police Dog Hogan have the ability to fill the void left in the Modern Folk world left by Bellowhead and The Mumfords; as they too write exceptionally articulate and accessible songs with melodies that will either tap your toes or close your eyes and drift off into another universe altogether; most notably on Funfair on Shepherd’s Bush Green and the finale Let Me Rest My Eyes which will, in fact bring a tear to a glass eye.
This only leaves me to tell you about my Favourite Track here; Barcelona which is a real rumbustious pub-rocker about someone searching for love and not finding it, so thinking that the grass might be greener in said Barcelona. When I first saw the song title I wondered if it was a cover of the Ronnie Lane song Barcelona; and it’s not …… but sounds as if it should be, with Studholme sounding as hopeful as he’s sad in every verse; and a rolling barrelhouse piano supplements the shuffling beat from the band who sound professionally sloppy; just like Ronnie and Slim Chance did way back when; and his band still do today.
I have to be very careful when I review British Folk music as it’s not normally my ‘thing’ but Police Dog Hogan cross any perceived barriers with ease and a batch of great songs that anyone and everyone will enjoy … trust me, I know stuff.
Released January 14th 2022
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