Published Aug 21, 2015Listening to JP Hoe's latest album, Hideaway, it's evident that the Winnipeg-based musician hasn't received the attention he deserves. Although his 2012 album Mannequin received positive reviews and he has been nominated for six Western Canadian Music Awards, Hoe's penchant for writing mature pop songs hasn't garnered the recognition that lesser peers of his enjoy.
This time around, Hoe and producers Dana Matyas (Imaginary Cities) and João Carvalho (City and Colour, Serena Ryder, Sloan) couple Hoe's sincere songwriting with a big band sound replete with strings, horns and grand piano. One only need listen to the first song — the single "Beautifully Crazy" — to get a feel for Hoe's approach. Written with Andy Stochanksy, the song recognizes the fascination within the seemingly pedestrian.
Hoe has a flair for the dramatic, and on many of these songs it appears in the form of strings that enliven bridges on "Run Away From Me," "Danger" and "Save You," although he employs horns on "Like I Did Back" and "That Word." Often, the extravagant instrumentation seems to occur when the arrangement of the song starts to feel bland, swooping in after the second chorus to add dimension to the songs.
Hoe can be forgiven for any triteness, though; his vocal range does most of the heavy lifting on Hideaway, and "That Word" is perhaps the best example of Hoe's performance. The song begins with the Winnipegger singing with Chris Martin softness and a lone acoustic guitar, before it gradually grows. Despite the addition of piano, horns and strings, the power of his voice eclipses the accompanying instruments.
So while Hideaway doesn't offer anything groundbreaking in terms of songwriting and arrangement, it's a great showcase for this Manitoban with a big voice. (MapleMusic)