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Monday, Oct. 22, 2012

Jim Hoehn

Silhouette of a Fool

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 Jim Hoehn is Milwaukee's prime purveyor of trop rock, the Caribbean-inflected sound that originated in Jimmy Buffett's breezily wry worldview and continues to hold intermittent influence on commercial country radio. Silhouette of a Fool establishes Hoehn in a broader songwriting tradition that extends back to Roger Miller's mid-’60s wiseacre goofball crossover hits. Hoehn need not evoke the beach and seaside saloons in order to make funny, often ironic points. He still does occasionally, but he's at least as interested in middle-class, middle-age realities, weirdo buskers on Madison's State Street and reminiscences of the rock of his youth.

Within the current flow of alt country/Americana, Hoehn fits into its eccentric spectrum near Rev. Billy C. Wirtz and the Austin Lounge Lizards. Perhaps not surprisingly, his softer side jibes with mainstream country sentimentalists like Trace Adkins and Semi-Twang's John Sieger. His versatile band extends his musical swath from the expected Buffettisms to Eastern European folk, proto-Motown soul and the kind of jazzy country hybrid Red Foley might have dug. Hoehn is only getting more solid in his peculiar musical niche.