Hogan & Moss 

Reuben’s Train

Branding your music with a name like “scorch folk,” as Jon Hogan and Maria Moss have done, makes a statement. It’s an evocative description, a little mysterious. Will it be somber folk lyrics over warp-speed music? A fire-and-brimstone take on folk? The title song on the duo’s new album, Reuben’s Train, establishes the ethos of the style. The vocal is aggressive, the old-time instrumentation propelling and the lyrical question presented, “Who’ll rock the cradle when I’m gone?” is a question folk music implicitly asks. Is another revival around the corner, or will the style fade away? The problem with the album as a whole is that the vocals and lyrics aren’t quite strong enough to support an answer. The more interesting songs have less scorch, and often are written with or by other songwriters. The music on the Hogan-penned “Leaky Tent” is great, especially the blistering fiddle solo, but it fades in contrast with a cover of the well-worn traditional “Coo Coo” that comes two tracks later, with its intriguing prosody and metaphorical heft. It may be that Hogan & Moss’ foremost talent isn’t composition or genre-coining, but interpretation.

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