Singer songwriter John Hogan, who performs and records simply as JH, has a new album out called Times Past.
As the name suggests, it looks to bygone days but more importantly, it explores the emotions conjured up by events from childhood and youth. It’s a very thoughtful album and the there’s always a feeling of “what if …” about choices that were made.
JH says that “if one song on my album means something to someone I’ll consider it a success.” Well, on that basis he should have no worries because most people will find something worthwhile and enjoyable in this delightful collection of songs.
It’s all acoustic featuring JH on vocals, guitar, mandolin and banjo. There’s also occasional and tasteful contributions from saxophones, clarinet, whistles and flutes – plus various percussion instruments played by JH’s son Sean.
Most of the songs are written by JH and have strong melodies with tasteful arrangements.
The lyrics are also strong and always intriguing. JH says “a song has as many lives as it has listeners” and there’s no doubt each listener will find something new and personal in each track.
The opening song, Once in A While, is about a lost love. Perfect Girl is about a man confusing reality and dream world.
Sweet Talk Can Fade Very Fast looks at the importance or possibly the dangers of chance meetings.
The title track, Times Past takes a nostalgic look back at holidays with the extended family when everyone got together, some from Liverpool some from Dublin – a common experience for Irish families which were often spread across different countries.
Irishman in America tells the story of Irishman moving to America. As many Irish people find, there may be a new life on offer but there’s a price to pay.
Times Past will reach out to many people because JH works hard to communicate well. As he says: “One thing I can honestly say about my songs is that they were sincere and written from the heart. I aim for them to be poetic but simple and insightful yet direct.”
Times Past achieves all that and more. A great album for anyone who enjoys melodic music with thoughtful lyrics.