Although Roger Hoover has made a name for himself in folk and Americana circles with his brand of searching, wistful songwriting, the last thing he wishes to do is be pigeonholed into any specific genre. In particular, with his sixth collection of originals, Pastures (out September 13 on Last Chance Records), the singer wishes most to look forward while keeping an eye on the road behind.
“My favorite songwriters are the risk-takers who leave traces of the past in their songs– Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Kris Kristofferson” Hoover explains. “And I feel I’m doing the same, advancing the genre while paying homage to the past.”
Indeed, Pastures’ thoughtful meanderings take listeners through a map of contemplative, everyman’s observations in the vein of music history’s best storytellers, set in the fertile backdrop of the U.S. Midwest—a region Hoover himself knows firsthand. His childhood in Northeast Ohio gave him a lens on the life of the area’s working class population, which grew to a talent for turning observation into poetry.
Pastures’ lyrical matter explores everything ranging from a romance wrought in Escanaba, Michigan to a simple but profound concern that the life we all create is not enough for the ones we leave behind. However, anchoring all of the songs is a bit of light and resilience for the future.
“I tried to provide an expression of the frustration that comes when you feel as though you’re being beaten down or trapped, but also an expression of hope and optimism that permeates the people of the Midwest,” Hoover notes. “This feeling that, ‘Times are hard tonight, but they won’t be in the morning.'”
Overall, the singer-songwriter found a satisfaction in the genre-defying set of material, which indeed fulfills his wish to progress without boundaries– and without a loss of respect for where his inspirations came.
When all is said and done, “This is a record about man’s station in life,” Hoover states. “I found myself asking, ‘Who am I? How did I get here? Where do I go from here?” and knew people who were feeling the same way.
“Instead of complaining about or writing a fatalistic record about our station in life, I wrote a response that we have the ability to change. So, I wrote this record from the viewpoint that we have every opportunity to change the pasture we’re living in.”