Trying To Believe
Former Heavy Metal Horns frontman Thaddeus Hogarth lays down a simmering brew of soul, funk, blues, and more on his excellent sophomore solo disc, Trying To Believe. Comparisons to the '70s output of Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder are apt, but there's more going on here than mere emulation. Gems like "I Just Wanna Be Like You," "That Was Yesterday," and especially the stunning, gritty "Cold Shack" take those '70s R&B masters as a jumping off point, then diversify with elements of reggae, blues, jazz, and more. Take "She Loves Me," for example -- an upbeat ballad that easily would have fit in on, say, Talking Book, complete with Stevie-esque harmonica solo closing the track out, yet it still sounds fresh and original. The inspiration is obvious, but Hogarth goes well beyond lavish imitation. He also has a fantastic, soul-drenched voice that can plead and shout with equal intensity. Ably backed by the rhythm section of Joey Scrima (drums) and David Buda (bass), Hogarth plays all the other instruments himself, performing with immense skill and passion. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hogarth outshines the giants of the '70s, he doesn't come far from matching them, either. An altogether excellent offering, and one I heartily recommend.
Spinning Records, 368 Congress Street, Studio 3, Boston, MA 02210, http://www.spinningrecords.com, http://www.thaddeushogarth.com