Nashville singer-songwriter Will Hoge doesn’t fit easily into a musical box and he’s fine with that.
He’s conversant in rock and country. He’s toured with Sugarland and Social Distortion. His albums appear on country and indie charts. He’s appeared three times at the Grand Ole Opry. His song “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” was a No. 1 hit for the Eli Young Band and won a Grammy nomination. Another Hoge song, “Strong,” was used in a Chevrolet truck commercial.
So it’s no surprise that the follow-up album to his angry 2018 “My American Dream” sticks to the music his current touring band is making. “This is really a great rock ’n’ roll band. It can do country and rock and soul and everything in between,” he said in a recent phone interview on the road to a Texarkana gig. That show is part of a five-town swing through Texas that has Hoge and his band performing Saturday at The Backyard.
Hoge, 46, has assembled many bands in his career, but says the current lineup has jelled to the point where they can explore a deeper selection of his songs. “We can dig into the catalog of songs more. We do a song or two from every album on every show,” he said. “There’s a different set every night.”
It’s also a return to more of his previous albums than last year’s release “My American Dream,” whose song titles — “Thoughts & Prayers,” “Gilded Walls,” “Still a Southern Man,” “Illegal Line” — indicate its higher-than-usual political content. So did the inclusion of the U.S. Constitution in the CD and LP releases.
That was the writer side of him having to get some things off his chest, he said, much in the same way that Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash wrote the occasional political song without turning their performances into political rallies.
“That is what that record was,” he said. “My shows never have been and never will be political rallies . . . If you hear something you don’t like, go get a drink and come back when you hear something you do.”
The tug of music and songwriting pulled Hoge from his history studies at Western Kentucky University in the 1990s and set him on his career path. He was signed to Atlantic Records early in his career, but left over frustration, going to the smaller Rykodisc for three albums, then Cumberland Records and Edlo.
Digital music and streaming have made the genre categories of the past irrelevant, he noted, and he’s glad for it. That disregard for the musical boxes of record stores and radio has long characterized his audiences and leaves him free to write and play what he wants.
“As long as your heart is in it and your songs are good, you’ll have an audience,” he said.