ALBUM REVIEW: Carol Hodge – Savage Purge (Midnight Stamp)
Carol Hodge is a Huddersfield-based singer and pianist best known for her work with Crass co-founder Steve Ignorant, providing keys and backing vocals for his acoustic project Slice Of Life.
She was also a lead vocalist on his Last Supper project, performing Crass songs on a world tour, and was due to spend 2020 reprising that role around the UK and Europe. The coronavirus pandemic put paid to that, but it did give her more time to promote this, her second album of solo material.
Carol has also been a member of Wrecks and Bad Taste Barbies, and worked with Texan rockers Ryan Hamilton And The Harlequin Ghosts, prog-punks The Membranes and The Ginger Wildheart Band.
For all her links with the scene, this is not a rock record of any sort, let alone punk, but you might just get a pleasant surprise, as it is an album full of music from the heart, with real depth and soul.
Where 2018’s solo debut Hold On To That Flame, released on independent label Chopback, showed her social conscience, this one is much more personal. That much is evident from the off with Stop Worrying Baby, which is about self-empowerment and bouncing back from a broken relationship.
I Still Love Me, with regular collaborator Dave Draper providing guitar, bass and drums, is an upbeat slick pop song about learning to love yourself, while the lockdown-inspired single A Song For You reminds us to be grateful for the little things in life.
Carol sums up how many people have got through the last few months when she sings: “This is a song for you/If you’re feeling small and don’t know what to do/Just think, I’m safe here/And I’m warm here, And I feel glad to be alive.”
Although the lyrical themes are often dark, including alcoholism (on the electro-pop-inflected Stopped Believing In You) and mental health (Waving Not Drowning), it is an album full of positivity, of brushing away the darkness and embracing good things in life.
For me the standout track is In Case Of Emergency, a song about domestic abuse where her voice aches with emotion, backed – like most of my favourite songs here – by just some subtle piano. It’s possibly the best song I’ve heard this year.
Carol shows she’s a musician who can switch genres at will, which makes for an eclectic listen, and you’d never guess from her impressive CV or playing that she’s disabled – self-effacingly describing herself as a “seven-fingered pianist”.
Savage Purge is a wonderful, multi-layered record which should appeal to fans of artists like Regina Spektor, Amanda Palmer and PJ Harvey. It’ll be your loss if you choose to ignore this. 8/10.
- Savage Purge is available on limited edition red vinyl, CD or to download from Carol’s Bandcamp page HERE.