The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Will Hatch. Courtesy photo

Will Hatch & Co. w/ The Dobros
When: Saturday, March 10, 9 p.m.
Where: Penuche’s Ale House, 6 Pleasant St., Concord

Will Hatch CD exudes rural charm


 With the scuffed elegance of old leather boots, the nine songs on For You — the first long-player from Will Hatch — feel lived in and familiar at first listen. There’s also heartache and world weariness that belie the singer-songwriter’s 27 years. More than once during the record, Hatch touches on impending death, from bad habits and misadventure. 

The most compelling tracks are often mournful. “Hank” is an ode to the legendary country singer’s demise on New Year’s Day, 1953, while “Sad News” is exactly as its title implies. But both are sweet and tuneful.
Hatch marks the new record with a hometown show at Penuche’s Ale House on March 10. For You took two years to make. The process began with sessions in his Concord apartment, recording with members of his band, Will Hatch & Co. It was completed at Sound Check Studio in Richmond, Virginia, where Hatch made his first EP in 2011-12. 
Producer Immanuel the Liberator assembled a group of talented players, with much of the work being done long distance.
The effort depended on a lot of trust, and the collaboration clearly worked. 
“Some of the production ideas were mine, and a lot of things were just a product of the musicians we’d bring into the studio — they would shape it,” Hatch said as he readied to play a dinner set in a Claremont restaurant. “A lot of it is just the magic he created.”
Tall and wiry, with a close-trimmed beard, Hatch looks the part of of a well-traveled troubadour. He has high hopes for his new collection. 
“I’m trying to push it now that it’s done, get some radio play and reach out to record labels,” he said. “See if I can take my career to the next step. It’s the best thing I could have done, it sounds so professional. I think it’s a really good tool going forward.”
Hatch’s local band includes Eric Seldon Ober (Rippin’ E Brakes) and Opined Few/Green Sisters fiddler Betsy Green, who also provides scintillating harmonies. Over the past year, Will Hatch & Co. has had a few different configurations. For the Penuche’s release party, everyone involved is invited. 
“I felt it was appropriate to play it there; it’s kind of a home base,” Hatch said of the Concord basement bar. Performed live, the album’s songs are “more rootsy, less of that classical studio strings on the record ... and once the night gets a little darker, it turns to rock and roll. We’ll plug in and do a little electric blues — with a fiddle.”
Hatch grew up in Hopkinton, playing drums in grade school. He switched to guitar after joining a band at age 15. 
“I really learned it so I could write songs,” he said. 
Most of his early music was standard rock and roll, and punk. That changed when he heard neo-folk standard bearers Old Crow Medicine Show. 
“That’s why I bought a banjo — I had to get it,” he said. 
From there, the 19-year-old dug into Bob Dylan’s songs and moved backward. 
“Ttracing the roots — Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and the Anthonlogy of American Folk Music — I kind of got the history. I said, ‘This is my music.’ That’s when I really got good,” he said.
When asked for his songwriting inspirations, Hatch quickly names Townes Van Zandt, then trails off without adding another. That’s fitting; many of his songs, like the battered romance of “Oh Girl” and the pleading “Oh Lord,” ably channel the hard-luck Texan.
He shares an outlook, and an affinity for old-timey country music, with fellow local performer Tristan Omand, and the two will perform a Bluebird Cafe-style song swap together at New England College on March 31. 
“We definitely have some similar influences,” Hatch said. “At the show, we’ll both sing songs and tell stories.” 
Asked to name his favorite part of making the new album, Hatch thought for a moment. 
“Just hearing the outcome,” he said. “Any time you get to go into a real studio and just record, it’s fun. I like just recording vocals in the studio because a lot of it is really hard, and recording guitar parts is not really fun. But I learned a lot to make it easier next time.” 

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