Listening to this album is like catching up with an old buddy, sharing thoughts and memories with a friend you know you can trust.
Tim 'Hogie' Higgins is originally from up north but has since moved down south. His EP, Folk From The Smoke, produced by Mike Badger, was praised right here at Whisperin' & Hollerin' for its warmth and humanity. Four years on we have his debut album which has these same qualities.
This time around, the record was produced in London by Kenny Dickinson, a collaboration that came about after the two met by chance in Hogie's local pub.
This connection proves especially fortuitous since, not only does Dickinson play piano, but he has also gathered a fine group of musicians to help give greater range and variety to the twelve tracks.
The Hogie sound can broadly be classified as folk with a smattering of country swagger. Slide guitar, fiddle and dobro help lend many of the tunes an authentically Americana feel, notably on Devil's Got His Work To Do and Two Minutes, tunes which might have come straight out the Gram Parsons' songbook.
In addition, a gospel feel pervades the title track and there's even a bit of Mexican mariachi on Ballad Of Santa Muerte featuring Noel Langly on trumpet.
And then there are, of course, the songs of love and loss such as Inseparable ("So it seemed") and Think Of Me, a heartbreaking lament of a man fighting his demons, admitting his failings ("I know you think I'm a hopeless case") and trying to restore some measure of self respect.
The fact that tunes like these often strike a poignant note is due to the fact that they were written around the time of the passing of Hogie's mother. The album is dedicated to her memory and includes one particularly touching song, Rome, with lyrics adapted from a eulogy delivered at her funeral.
Other songs include ones about the drudgery of a workaday routine (Toe The Line), the importance of treating your woman right (Disappear From View), coming to terms with never being in line to the throne (Bloodline Royalty) and the injustices of living in Hard Times.
It closes with Old Time Song, a tender and compassionate tune offering words of comfort to a woman (or man?) who has turned to whiskey and pills to get through the day.
Despite the range of styles, this album benefits from a unifying character that is a tribute to Kenny Dickenson's no nonsense production skills but, above all, illustrates the maturity and depth of Hogie's song writing.
I recommend you pull up a chair, fill your glass and take a listen.