Hootie & the Blowfish : Imperfect Circle Review
Hootie & the Blowfish are back! The band has reunited a fourteen-year hiatus. Of course, Darius Rucker brandished a cowboy hat and boots and became a country star with his pinnacle being the cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Though Hootie & the Blowfish still performed on occasion over those fourteen years, they never released any new music. Well, that changed on November 1, 2019, when Hootie & the Blowfish released their new full-length album called Imperfect Circle. The impetus for the official reunion was the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Cracked Rear View. The band is also tour supporting Imperfect Circle, so now is your chance to see an iconic band perform if you missed them the first time. For Imperfect Circle Hootie & the Blowfish worked with producers Jeff Trott and Frank Rogers. The album’s thirteen songs were recorded in Nashville and Charleston and feature a wide array of sounds and emotions. Released on Capitol Nashville, the sound and PR are top-notch but don’t worry, Hootie & the Blowfish still maintains their signature college rock sound that first made them so famous.
“New Year’s Day” opens the album with an upbeat feel that falls right into the beloved Hootie & the Blowfish sound. A catchy chorus, Rucker’s warm and sing-along inspiring voice leading the way. The instrumentation is deep with layers, especially the various guitar parts, which are never in your face, but always doing something interesting. The bridge has a big vocal harmony section and a little bit of country twang in the guitar part. The songwriting does not take any left turn. The song does build, especially after the breakdown after the bridge, with vocal harmonies and new instrument lines. Rucker opens up and sings some inspiring lines and variations on the melody.
“Hold On” is another party song co-written by Chris Stapleton. The mood is set by a roots-rock guitar part for the verse, and the Hootie & the Blowfish big hooking chorus does not disappoint. The song has big organ swells and feel good drums, but the arrangement also has intricate band hits that are subtle, but very effective in creating energy. Rucker’s sing is focused and supported with vocal harmonies that enrich the line. The guitar solo is very tasteful. Again, after the solo, the song builds with more vocal harmonies, Rucker expanding on the melody and the instrumentation growing. The music is so well structured and satisfies the need for repeated listens.
Imperfect Circle is the perfect album for the middle-aged Hootie & the Blowfish chapter. The band and Rucker all sound very comfortable and are not out to prove anything. The thirteen tunes a very user-friendly and have and instant familiarity that will hold up to multiple plays. Hootie & the Blowfish fans will be thrilled with Imperfect Circle and the charming warmth of the tunes and Rucker will undoubtedly pull in a new generation as the Hootie & the Blowfish songbook continues to grow.
Hootie & the Blowfish
Release Date: November 1, 2019