I have a friend who knows everything that there is to know about clouds. He could tell you whether something was a nimbus, a curious or a bilious (I’ve made these up) and let you know what sort of weather we might be due as a result.
When I first heard “Thunderheads” by Police Dog Hogan, such is my ignorance that I had no idea that a thunderhead referred to a cloud formation. But, a little search of the good old internet, told me that a thunderhead is one of those clouds, a Cumulonimbus, associated with thunderstorms and atmospheric instability.
This is a song about resilience. It’s a statement about strength in the face of adversity. “You do not frighten me”, sings lead singer, James Studholme, as the song builds to climax and refrain. Whatever thunderstorm or instability might be on the horizon is of little consequence because resolve has already been built from years of the same.
There’s eight of them in Police Dog Hogan. They create a feast of folk well suited to festivals. Some have called it ‘urban bluegrass’ but I’m not sure that offers the full picture. This is Americana with a very English twist. With guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles and trumpets, there’s no doubting their musical expertise. They’ve an average age greater than 40, so have had a few years to perfect such talent.
I’ve been listening to a preview of Police Dog Hogan’s third album ‘Westward Ho!’ (Released October 6th) for some time now. As a young boy, growing up in Dorset, there are tunes on it that immediately resonate. ‘West Country Boy’ offers a very English insight into what it’s like as a musician to tour the village halls and cider pubs in that neck of the world. Any song that manages to name-check Melksham and Mere within a country-folk framework is fine by me.
This video for ‘Thunderheads’ has some truly gorgeous locations in it. As the summer passes and we face the onset of Autumn, it’s worth thinking how all of us are going to give a good, old two-fingered salute to those clouds on the horizon. This is as good a place as any to start.