Beginning with a live cover of Bob Dylan’s Girl from the North Country, artist and musician Jack Hogan takes things back to the bare essentials – leading with the simple, raw strum of an acoustic guitar, and dreamy, soulful vocals that capture the essence and imagery of the song beautifully.
Somewhat home-made in presentation, the live sound is refreshing in its authenticity – the intimate performance reminds listeners not only of songwriting’s past but of live music’s; the experiences from before the lockdown, the baring of a soul, in the moment, under the spotlight.
As an example of Hogan’s songwriting, Before You, After You delivers the same genuineness production-wise, yet delves into outlaw country expression and bluesy melodic progressions in a likeable, again nostalgic manner.
The vocals here sound stunning, gentle and captivating, smooth as they detail via short lines the reflections of the protagonist. The lyrics manage to feel both timeless and fresh in their deeply personal honesty and poetry combined. An easy favourite from the catalogue.
Taking on a slightly more intense acoustic rock realm is the Rolling Stones cover Let It Bleed. Another live take, showcasing the natural strengths of Hogan’s vocal and guitar unity within the space.
The guitar doesn’t fill the gaps behind the voice, on the contrary – the voice and the guitar seem to take turns, a back and forth that consistently prompts you to consider the live show in real time, and the true connection between the artist and the subject at hand.
Freshly released as a taster of the upcoming album Jack Hogan Dies, Bird With a Broken Wing lays bare another side to the musician – a lower vocal tone, a softer presentation and performance, short lines and poetic depths that completely lure you in with their profound and relatable uncertainty and reflection.
Another highlight, softly hypnotic as it pours through almost seven minutes of longing and contemplation.
While all of these releases maintain an air of purity in their live states, one track quite literally wraps up a moment of improvisation that Jack refers to as a ‘joke song’, written and performed while the mics were still running.
A hint of feedback and a wash of reverb supports the now unmistakable sound of Jack Hogan, now relaying the angst and regret of the story across a near-eight-minute freestyle of sorts, under the title Last Words Were You Loved Me.
Then, as a final indication of the thoughtful writing at hand, Eulogy On Wilshire brings through the nature of the upcoming concept album, and proves to be the most immediately emotive of the collection so far.
The bluesy descending melody of a Johnny Cash-style origin works wonders alongside the intricacies and other-worldly musings of this story and the rising passion of Hogan’s outpouring.
Utterly committed to the moment in that each recording offers a true glimpse of humanity and emotional exploration, Jack’s music is far from the methodical, formulaic industry standard, and instead emerges as more natural and compelling in meandering through the feelings of each song.