Review: Carol Hodge – ‘Savage Purge’

Huddersfield based singer and pianist Carol Hodge has released her second solo studio album; ‘Savage Purge’, and it is indeed something rather special. Best known for her work alongside Crass founder Steve Ignorant and everyone’s favourite Texan; Ryan Hamilton, Hodge follows up 2018’s acclaimed debut ‘Hold Onto That Flame’ with ten deeply personal tracks that will floor the listener, before picking them back up again and have them kicking up a hooley.

One of the most natural voices around today, Biffy’s Simon Neil being another, Hodge has a wonderfully expressive vocal style and never overreaches or oversings. No need for multiple notes or even to stretch them out, even when she is at her most vulnerable (‘In Case of Emergency’, ‘Send Me Someone’, ‘Let Gravity Win’ amongst others) Hodge shows great restraint and never drains the moment of meaning by hitting numerous different notes for every vocal syllable. ‘Let Gravity Win’ displays a thousandfold more emotion than the entire Top 20 singles combined, but without the vocal gymnastics (or if you are Lewis Capaldi – histrionics).

Beginning with the laid-back piano tones, and gentle tempo of ‘Stop Worrying Baby’, this is an album that takes the listener on a journey. ‘Waving Not Drowning’ is a wonderful play on words that remains as poignant as the famous Stevie Smith poem that might have inspired it. With lyrics like “I love me, and there’s nobody else that I’d rather be, even if it means I have to put up with minimum 60% misery, I still love me”, there was a chance that ‘I Still Love Me’ could have gone down a different path, the end result though is an empowering call-to-arms that exudes hope. One of those moments that could be classed as a “total fucking banger”.

The flow and pacing on ‘Savage Purge’ are crucial, the way that ‘Send Me Someone’ bleeds into ‘Semi Colon’ is sublime, but it’s the one-two of ‘In Case Of Emergency’ followed by ‘Magic Bullet’ that delivers the knockout punch. The former is a bare-bones, stop-you-in-your-tracks heartbreaking tale, then the joyful and hugely uplifting ‘Magic Bullet’ kicks in (complete with vocal hooks to give you the confidence to tackle anything) and the listener is sat scratching their head wondering why they haven’t heard it on BBC Radio 6 yet. The same could be said of ‘Stopped Believing in You’, if ever there was a case of “the one that got away” then here it is. Huge crossover-appeal on this one and it’s stating the bleeding obvious saying that national radio truly dropped the ball with this one.

Expertly produced by the ever-reliable Dave Draper, ‘Savage Purge’ is, simply put, life-affirming.

Pick up ‘Savage Purge’ here.

Review – Dave

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