This album represents one of those brilliant moments in life when you receive an album that just immediately clicks on almost every level. If this album didn’t come from Hodge, it might not be what you expect from RPMOnline. With a history of performing with Crass, Ryan Hamilton, and Ginger Wildheart among others though, I was going to be very interested in hearing this album on that basis. From the moment I hit play, I found myself stuck on the computer the first time it played. I immediately burned a copy for the car and then made sure it was on the iPod so I could play it throughout the house. Hodge has created a great pop album that takes darkness and immerses it in hope and her charisma.
‘Stop Worrying Baby’ features some very nice piano that reminds me more of the likes of Carole King then what people consider pop music today. Hodge’s voice hits me in all the perfect ways, and she uses it to craft a magical chorus that has made me hit the repeat button numerous times. Piano alone introduces ‘Waving Not Drowning’ with the song feeling like it should be the centerpiece in a movie. Musically, this song has a very haunting feel to it, but, as I mentioned in the introduction, the song has much more of a positive message to tell with this song addressing suicidal ideation and the importance of reaching out to others whether it be friends, family, or strangers. ‘I Still Love Me’ provides an increase in the tempo and celebrates all of the special things that make each of us without it sounding cheesy. Dave Draper’s production is spot on throughout the album (as expected) with this song being a shiny example. The drums and bass jump out of the speaker with the guitar riff being perfectly placed. The chorus is designed for maximum effect without it being over the top in the mix.
‘In Case of Emergency’ showcases how powerful a ballad can truly be. The delicate piano works in perfect union with Hodge’s vocals. The subtle twist in key going into the chorus is tremendous. I also don’t think I have made it all the way through this song one time without the hair on my arms standing up from Hodge’s magical vocal. The subtle use of the guitar here provides some additional texture. Following that song was never going to be easy, ‘Magical Bullet’ rises to the task by providing us with a great rock song that makes it impossible to sit through without moving. You will want to be up on your feet moving, dancing, and singing.
Kicking off the back half of the album, ‘Send Me Someone’ reminds me more of the likes of Fiona Apple perhaps. There is something magical about Hodge’s voice when it is just paired with a piano. While this song does not connect quite the same as ‘In Case of Emergency,’ it remains a powerful song full of powerful, direct lyrics. The sequencing here is extremely important too with ‘Send Me Someone’ containing vocals until almost its last note. The transition to the layered vocals at the start of ‘Semi Colon’ is perfection. I am left hanging on every vocal and piano note on this one. Even after many plays, it becomes a challenge to write a review while listening to the album because I just keep getting lost in the music and words all over again. ‘Virtue Signals’ turns up the rock again and is also the longest song on the album at 5 minutes. This song has proven to be more of a grower which I attribute to the previous song being so amazing. Hodge sings with confidence and power here which gets highlighted with the way the pre-chorus sets up the chorus by taking her vocals and musical down a deep ravine before having the full music and vocals come back for the chorus.
Hitting near the end of the album, ‘Stopped Believing in You’ has all the makings of a huge crossover hit if it could catch some airplay. Draper had made a comment to me about the potential of this song to make this album huge, and he was right on the money. It highlights the strength of the album when this song gets placed near the end. The song builds and builds over a musical beat that again gets the listener moving. Subtle musical touches rise to the surface with each listen, and, at just over 3 minutes, this song ends way too soon so I have noticed this is another one where that repeat button keeps getting abused. ‘Let Gravity Win’ serves as a perfect closer as Hodge tells the narrative that happens to us as we get older in this society. The song provides a sense of catharsis and provides empathy that we all go through this rite of passage. We can do it our own way though.
‘Savage Purge’ hit me at the perfect time when I first heard it so I resisted reviewing it immediately. I wanted to give it a little more time so I could dig in deeper. Additional listens have only strengthened my first impression. These 10 songs deserve to be heard by an audience far and wide. This album also goes to another level in the dead of night when there are no other sounds in the background. Do yourself a favor and give this album some listens and a purchase. We need to keep hearing more songs by Hodge.
‘Savage Purge’ is officially available March 30th and available for purchase now
Author: Gerald Stansbury