Police Dog Hogan
Police Dog Hogan are a seven-piece band based in London who play what they describe as urban bluegrass. Their first album release shows them to be instrumentally competent, if never outstanding, but the songs are unfortunately not strong enough for the band to make a sustained impact.
In their favour, they do have a gift for an amusing lyric. So “Officer Darling” is about being pulled over by an attractive police officer: Officer Darling arrest me please, Lock up my heart and throw away the keys. And on “Shitty White Wine” they sing of the dubious attractions of cheap white wine: Shitty white wine, tastes like turpentine, A kangaroo on the label is never a good sign.
Although it raises a smile, it comes across as a bit of a pastiche of a country song, and that may point to the fundamental problem with Police Dog Hogan.
Formed in 2008 by a group of friends who had played together for around 25 years, it does sound at times like they are just out for a bit of fun. Whilst probably entertaining at a live show, many of their songs may not stand up to repeated listenings on a CD.
James Studholme takes the lead vocals on nearly all the songs (guitar and dobro player Pete Robinson takes over on two, and there’s one instrumental). Vocals are high up in the mix, so every word is clear, but unfortunately the lyrics don’t always merit it. So when they try to tackle more serious subjects, they are often not convincing. They sing about depression on “Something More Than Blue”, while “Gone Away”, which is presumably about the death of a father, is lifted by some lovely cello from Lucy Bailey. But the lyrics offer nothing new: They threw away the mould that made him, Never see his kind again. “Some Kind of Wonderful”, a straightforward pretty love song, is better, and the album closes with a hidden bonus track called “Burnt”.
Overall, Police Dog Hogan don’t really offer enough to compete at a time when so much really excellent Americana music is being produced, and their debut album may only work for those looking for a souvenir from attending their live shows.