"Took a whole lot of miles to know what I know now," sings Will Hoge on "Growing Up Around Here," the opening track off of his tenth studio album, Small Town Dreams. "I'm kinda proud of growing up around here." It's been a whole lot of miles, indeed: miles on the road, driving the bus himself from venue to venue since the nineties; miles to and from Nashville writing rooms, where he's spent countless hours penning songs – some for him, some for others; miles exploring lands outside of his native Franklin, Tennessee, chasing the spirits of his musical heroes. Roads meet, roads split, roads led to home. This is the album that follows them all, every twist and turn in Hoge's American journey – a journey that's positioned him as one of our keenest, most honest modern storytellers, telling both his tale and ours.
"It's a reflection of where I am currently in my life," says Hoge of Small Town Dreams, "but also where I grew up, and, ultimately, where I think I'm going." From the streets of the town where he was raised, to the sidewalks of cities a hundred times the size, we all have dreams; and these are the stories of growing up, looking back and passing on those dreams, told as only Hoge can. Nostalgia, in his hands, is truly magic.
An extremely prolific songwriter with ten albums under his belt and countless songs written for others (including a Grammy nomination for Eli Young Band's number-one hit, "Even If Breaks Your Heart," co-written with Paslay), Hoge saw this next phase of his journey as an opportunity to explore even deeper into both his country and rock & roll roots. Never fitting particularly neatly into a genre box, he's always just made the music that moved him – but it's safe to say that he feels more kinship with the country community than ever, particularly as a storyteller.