After my recent outing to the NX35 Conference in Denton Texas, I was able to more fully understand why so many people feel that Denton has become quite the scene. So many quality bands that call Denton home playing in the clubs that truly are their homes made for a great weekend of discovery for me. One of the strongest impressions left on my memory was from The Heelers, and to be more specific, their lead man, Isaac Hoskins.
Hoskins’ solo album, Half Empty, recorded in 2007 and released independently in 2008, shows tremendous vision and craftsmanship as Hoskins truly takes the form of a storyteller to convey tales of substance abuse, agonizing heartbreak, loneliness and in some cases, even hope. There are some solid mid-tempo and upbeat rockers that twang in just the right way to warrant comparisons to the man who produced Half Empty, The Drams front man, Brent Best. It’s the slower tunes that standout above the rest for me, however. Hoskins’ conversational and painfully confessional lyrics are simple, yet enlightening and profound as you take in the entire context of each song. Abstract imagery and dense poetry would only serve to bog this disc down and distract the listener from what Hoskins is candidly laying out in the open.
In “This Concrete Life”, he sings “I can’t imagine ever feeling that alone“. With “In Case You Might Forget”, Hoskins hopes that the, “guy that lives behind me would go out and turn off that damn car alarm“. Then, in “I Gotta Prove”, Hoskins doesn’t hide a thing as he admits that “it would feel so good if I could just get stoned“. With these songs, as well as the rest of the disc, Hoskins has done what many great chefs look to do with every dish, he has taken simplicity and turned it into splendor.
About the author: I likes me some wine, women and waffles, not always in that order (but usually). Chaucer is cool, but fart jokes are even better. You feel like spikin' your country with a little soul or mix in a little rock without the roll? Lemme hear from ya!!