Many modern rock and blues artists stake the claim that the song responsible for their musical pursuits is Howlin’ Wolf’s “Back Door Man” or Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”; the opening riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” alone has launched the careers of several guitarists. Behind each song lies some ear-catching element that hypnotizes a budding musician, turning them toward music through some brilliant chord sequence or perfectly timed drumroll before they even know what’s happening. When an artist declares the song that reeled them into music is Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” the story is a bit more specific: given Young’s reputation as a prolific lyricist, the direct influence indicates the beginning of a deep and introspective songwriting career.
Such is the case with Florian Hofer, a young singer and guitarist from Hannover, Germany. Though similarly inspired by the guitar work of Jimi Hendrix and vocals of Motown’s early stars, Hofer’s time as a musician began after listening to Young’s popular song as a young teen. Now channeling many of the artists that impacted him at age 25, Hofer has garnered the true experience of a fledging musician striving to prove his talents to the world. After years of playing, touring, and pitching demos to recording studios, Hofer’s hard work will come to fruition on February 28 with the release of his first album Reaching.
Hofer reveals his songwriting skills early on the record with “Why,” a track that contemplates the struggles of life over a wah-wah pedal-laden background. Written in reaction to a hazardous plane ride over the Atlantic Ocean, Hofer becomes the exemplar songwriter on this track as he considers the impact of such an experience on not just his own life, but on the thoughts and actions of those around him. Like Young on “Heart of Gold,” Hofer aims to achieve a profound simplicity with his lyrics. On “Let it Out” and “On My Knees,” Hofer unites this lyrical force with brisk tempos, working in occasional guitar finger-picking and timely pedal work. Reviving a softer stance on “Illusions” and “Carrying,” Hofer demonstrates range across the last half of Reaching as he jumps from the soothing strumming of “Carrying” to the rapid scaling of album closer “Reigning Me.”
Due out at the end of the month, Reaching exists as Hofer’s first foray into the industry as a solo recording artist. Armored with solid ability as a guitarist and a crafty writing style, Hofer is likely to return as his talents continue to develop and evolve over time.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Let it Out
– Reigning Me
The Big Hit
Review by Meghan Roos