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CD Reviews: Will Hoge
Will Hoge: Almost Alone (Live at Smith's Olde Bar)
November 2003
By: Lauren Jonik
album cover of Will Hoge's Almost Alone (Live at Smith's Olde Bar)

There is nothing that quite compares to the experience of watching a band perform. With the release of Almost Alone (Live at Smith's Olde Bar), his first live album, singer/guitarist Will Hoge captures the magic of a live performance exquisitely. Recorded at Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta, GA on February 18, 2003, Will was accompanied by band members Brian Layson on guitars and John Lancaster on keyboards. The set, which included songs from the band's two previous studio albums, Carousel and Blackbird On A Lonely Wire, had both the energy of a rock show, as evidenced by Be The One, and the sweet, rolling emotion of an acoustic performance, as shown in Someone Else's Baby.

The album opens with crescendoing Let Me Be Lonely, and by the third song, Hey Tonight, it is hard to imagine anything other than the audience's attention being riveted to the stage. Emotional, deeply present and engaging in his delivery, Will Hoge never ceases to offer something real--- a tangible kind of soul. Interspersing conversational banter between songs, Will told the story of what happened when he and Brian were in Los Angeles performing on a television show. After their set, the TV interviewer stopped Will to chat for a moment while still on camera. "Feeling like a girl with headgear on with braces," as he describes the occasion, Will decided to remove the harmonica holder he was wearing while playing their songs. His attempt was foiled when the holder got caught on his earring--- on live television. In true rock and roll style, Will pretended that he was just casually leaning on his guitar. He concluded the tale by saying, "Yes, there is a video. . . No, you will never see it." And, without missing a beat, when an audience member yelled out at that very moment, "I love you, Will," he responded with a chuckle, "I love you too, but that ain't gonna get you the video."

Coming full circle in the spirit of love and heartache, Almost Alone ends with Better Off Now (That You're Gone), a song co-written with Brian Layson, and Carousel, a soft, passionate ballad. And I want you to come with me tonight / I don't know if it's real but it surely feels right. Whether entering the musical world of Will Hoge live and in person or through a CD, it's an experience that always feels just right.

Click here to read an interview with Will Hoge