Timeless Well Written Songs, Thoughtful Stories and ‘Charming’ Melodies For All Ages
It feels like I’ve known James Hodder forever, whereas even though we move in similar music circles; yet we’ve never met and I’ve not heard is music before he sent me a copy of the Wilderness Road single for the radio show.
That single, Wilderness Road opens the album via a haunting harmonica solo before young James enters the fray with his world weary song and a voice that suits the melancholic story.
Even this early in the album, it’s clearly evident we are in the company of a fine songwriter and evocative singer too.
There several words and expressions that I want to use regarding these songs, lyrics and tunes …. but will the readership be put off by words like ‘charming’, ‘winsome’ and/or ‘appealing’ …. but they are all things that passed through my thoughts in a positive manner each time I’ve listened to this album.
Don’t get me wrong; songs like Out Of Our Hands and/or One Clean Shot are both razor sharp and thoughtful in equal measures; but ‘charming’ also comes to mind too … perhaps it’s Hodder’s voice or maybe the arrangements, which across the board are always excellent making each song memorable indeed.
I’ve also been tempted to pigeonhole Hodder into the Modern Folk genre; where he wouldn’t be out of place; but then I went back to the intricate Flesh & Blood, Mary Anne and Feeling Blue (with it’s harmonica laden spine) and while all encompassing, Modern Folk only tells part of the story here …. I’m more inclined to go for Singer-Songwriter which in my humble opinion, puts Hodder and his songs in a bigger and better league.
For a ‘Man of Kent’ James Hodder’s approach to writing and singing, made me think of Geordie Legend, Alan Hull of Lindisfarne right from the start; and it wouldn’t take too much of an imaginative stretch to think Hillbilly The Kid or Out Of Their Hands (with its subtle Joni Mitchell nods) were from Alan’s pen … but they aren’t and that’s to the credit of James Hodder Esq.
I’m already regretting my Favourite Song choice, When It’s My Time (To Go), where somehow James has tapped into my own thoughts on that subject; but several others are starting to unravel a little more each time I play the album, making them appeal in ways I hadn’t expected; but I’m still choosing When It’s My Time (To Go) simply ‘because’.
Singer-Songwriters appear to be in Vogue at the moment; especially in the younger part of the market; but the things James Hodder sings about show that there is still a place for well written songs, with thoughtful stories and ‘charming’ melodies directed at all ages; but probably more so the older middle ages.
Released 3rd February 2023
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