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CD Reviews: Review of Midnight Ghost by Rob Hotchkiss
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Rob Hotchkiss: Midnight Ghost (2004)

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Be sure to check out Mike's interview with Rob Hotchkiss.

For those of you who think that some dude named Monahan is the face and heartbeat of the band Train, you need look no further than founding Train member Rob Hotchkiss to see that this is not the case. Hotchkiss and his debut solo record, Midnight Ghost, prove that contributions to his former band could not have been trivial. But enough about Train. Hotchkiss can sing, he can play (guitar, bass, piano, harmonica), and man, can he write great songs. He also teamed up with original and current members of Counting Crows to round out his lineup for the record.

“Rainmaker” has a blues-infused, classic rock feel to it and is a great start to whet the appetite. The second track, “Stay,” is positively mesmerizing, and it was upon listening to this song that I heard a similarity to one of the great singer/songwriters of our generation, Neil Finn. The title track has a comfortable, around-the-campfire feel while completely maintaining its masculinity. “Mr. Green” is a driving, harmony- and harmonica-laden song that most closely resembles those dudes Hotchkiss used to play with, and lyrically (I’m using my own imagination here) seems to be directed toward one or more of his old mates.

“Golden” is another hauntingly beautiful acoustic track. And while tracks like “Sarah” and “For Ellen” are pretty songs that are clearly written about his daughters, Hotchkiss also shines as a badass on “Try,” which has a bluesy, Memphis-tinged feel. “It’s Alright” was produced by Dave Bryson of Counting Crows fame, and in addition to having a Crowded House feel to it, is one of the best tracks on here. Another San Francisco-based singer/songwriter, Tom Luce, also contributed as a co-writer to the final track, “You.” The subtle and steady drumming throughout the CD is former Crow Steve Bowman, now a member of LUCE.

When reviewing an album like this, it’s very difficult to not mention Train because that band definitely helped Hotchkiss achieve a name for himself. But let’s face it, that band has got to miss him, because this solo effort is a gem, and one of those rare albums these days that you can listen to from beginning to end and never tire of. Fans of good songwriting, as well as fans of any of the above-mentioned artists, are simply going to love Rob Hotchkiss, the solo artist.

~Mike Farley 




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