The first time I heard Hieronymus Bogs was in concert at a local bar, and many of those at the show were sitting on the venue's floor, mesmerized by his solo performance. Much the same way, Bogs's latest album, "Grow" has me hypnotized.
"Grow," the musician's sixth studio album, is steeped in traditional folk music — occasional banjo-fueled songs that wouldn't sound out of place on the carny circuit or inside a railway car. The original tunes are haunting and balanced out by embellishments courtesy of the Bogs Visionary Orchestra, while Bogs, himself, has one of the finest tenor voices you will ever hear.
Many highlights on this album resonate in my mind: The opening moments of "Wanna Die Be A Folk Singer" invoke a beautiful foreign place; "Dark Stranger" incorporates the accordion and a horn section for a down-tempo march; The sing-along harmony and upbeat jangle of "The Woebegone" works in manifestos like, "We believe every star was meant to shine."
It would be difficult to pick out a standout track but "We Are Human" has worn out my Victrola. "We Are Human" begins as a simple woodwind instrumental that develops into a spacious song and flows like a western lullaby a la Aaron Copland.
"Grow" is an ambitious and well-crafted album. Hieronymus Bogs has taken the older genre, Americana, and given it a delightful makeover.