Thaddeus Hogarth

It Might as Well Be Now

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A bit late to ride on the neo-soul bandwagon of the late '90s, the obscure Thaddeus Hogarth nevertheless made an album wholly representative of the genre with 2003's It Might as Well Be Now. Hogarth wears his influences on his sleeve on this record, which is both a good and a bad thing: he learned his lessons from the '70s soul masters very well, but every one of his ideas can be traced easily and directly to its source. This comes through most clearly in the Sly Stone rewrite "I Wanna Be Ready" and the Stevie Wonder harmonica mimicry on "Inner City Fantasy." But if It Might as Well Be Now is a derivative album, it's still a solid one, Hogarth making the best use possible of his severely limited vocal range. He brings considerable passion to his singing, but more impressively, he balances that passion with restraint, like a preacher secure enough to feel that his congregation will get the message when they're ready. This sense of security is best embodied on the hopeful "I Think It's Gonna Rain," on which Hogarth offers a vocal treatment not unlike that of Gil Scott-Heron's finer moments. Opening track "If You Knew" is a smart standout, as is the reworking of the Sly Stone cut "Family Affair," which Hogarth somehow manages to render uplifting rather than cynical. It Might as Well Be Now may not be the most original or contemporary sounding album, but as a statement of striving for righteousness amidst urban blight, it holds up as a fine record in any age.

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