Joe Hodgson pulls out all the stops on Apparitions, turning out what easily falls into my 2020 top ten releases with just a few spins to make that call. The album was produced around his return to Northern Ireland in 2017 to nurse his terminally ill mother in the last year of her life. Hodgson described it as having a profound effect on him and his music and it is written all over the well-crafted songs within. I am not only impressed with Hodgson himself, but his band of world class players does not hurt either, which includes musicians from some other well-known bands of note.

Not being previously familiar with Hodgson, this title immediately corrected that and put him on my radar for more without hesitation after digging into this killer release with Hodgson combining the blues, jazz, rock fusion, funk and elements of Lattin music to spice it up nicely. The album kicks off with a trad arranged intro and outro to “Cantata 147 / Fly Your Flag” and once it sinks in you know you’re in for a serious ride with this setting up the tone and making a big first impression.

The chops of Hodgson are impeccable, so it leaves a lot open to salivate on, but the original songwriting lives up to the playing or I would not be describing it this way. Music without vocals can be hard to nail or even guess the meanings or where the ideas even come from. But when it is as good as Hodgson you just want to hear more and forget about explaining how it sounds. “Serna Sonata” proves that on the first spin and it never ends from there out until the 15th number. I also have not been this thrilled by an instrumental rock album in years.

URL: https://joehodgsonmusic.com/

The singles already released this year from Apparitions are as follows: “The One that got Away” and the double A-side “Serena Sonata”(already mentioned) and “Bareback Blues” which could not be a better chosen set to lead up to this full length album. I am just left wondering which track will follow suit, and I am happy to say the choice is between all od them, as this album contains not one filler track to these ears, it is actually the complete opposite as Hodgson smokes it all up like an incendiary inferno of jubilance and melancholy effects in one fell swoop.

“The One That Got Away” is a brilliant break in the set, but it gets left to its own spot with a lot of energy coming in behind it with the downright funk dominating “The Player” and it is where Hodgson’s dexterity gets tested and the Latin grooves bring it up to an even higher standard. “Resurrection Dance,” “Redneck and the Snowflake” and “Losing You Again” all share great moments in common with the rest of what is an album for the deepest appreciators of guitar instrumentals and beyond with its other musically illustrious benefits.

Michael Rand

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