Police Dog Hogan
Quintessentially English folk music for Americana fans
With those young gadabouts Mumford & Sons taking the Americas by storm, and subsequently giving traditional folk music a healthy kick in the pants, bands like Police Dog Hogan are now allowed to break free from the shackles imposed by the traditional English folk mafia and be a lot more adventurous with their output.
Westward Ho! is the band’s third album, and is even better and easier on the ear than their previous offering, Land of Miracles. Opening track
“Thunderheads” tells a sad tale of a foundling, but there’s no navel gazing nor self-pity on this charming song about self-belief and positivity that ebbs and flows like a stormy sea. Police Dog Hogan skip back and forth between English and American folk with ease and a smile on their faces. “The Land of Miracles” uses a Celtic military beat as the backing for a well-spun yarn about the formative years of the oil fields of the South (I think). On “Judgement Day”, we get a drinking song straight from the Blue Ridge Mountains, chock full of jug-band harmonies.
“A Man Needs a Shed” and the rollicking “West Country Boy”, with their acutely observed lyrics and jaunty tunes, couldn’t be anything other than English in origin; but the sentiments will resonate with men and musicians across the globe.
At the beginning, I mentioned that the band was being adventurous, and that comes to the fore on “Home” — not only a potent song but a collaboration with a group of ex-prisoners called Platform 7 about returning home when the prison sentence ends. The violin playing and harmonies will bring a tear to a glass eye. Halfway through, we get a quite-unexpected “rap.” It may not be of Snoop Dogg’s standard, but you never got that sort of thing from the Incredible String Band.
Without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite track is another break-up song, “One Size Fits All”. The banjo and accordion here are exceptional, and when James Studholme sings, “When it comes to heartache/One size fits all”, I can’t stop myself singing along.
Police Dog Hogan certainly aren’t a boy band, and this venture hasn’t ever been meant to be a means of making them millionaires; but that doesn’t stop them being professional and producing an album that will appeal to fans of all ages and genres.
UK Release – October 7th 2014