This EP was an unexpected treat this week. After quitting music, selling his instruments, then borrowing a few back to record his excellent last album, Russell Hoke looks to be recommitting. His last album was captured with a kind of lonesome grace in cell phone recordings, but now he enters a studio proper with a band behind him as well, and the shift sees a change in the breadth and tone of Hoke’s songs. The Melancholy Traveler was a bluegrass record made in isolation, a reflection of the album’s title, streaked with solitary sadness and gospel solemnity. Sneaking Into The Light finds Hoke adopting a more Country Rock countenance. With a bit of the Snock’s furrowed smirk in his songwriting, balanced by a sauntered pace that seems to enjoys company once again, the three songs here feel like a new era for the artist. The first two are settled into folk-country, hence the Hurley comparison, but as the single opens wide into its final song, there’s a rambling ‘70s feel — an Americana touch that’s as delightfully fun as anything I’ve heard out of him. The new EP is available now from Round Bale Recordings.
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