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Joanne Hogg & Natasha Petrovic — Apologia - Pilgrim
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-07-17

Apologia - Pilgrim Cover art

Many will remember Joanne Hogg as the golden voice of the Celtic progressive rock band Iona, who left us a dozen albums between 1990 and around 2012, and then capped it off with a massive seventeen-disc boxed set a few years ago, followed by silence; although their website doesn’t say the band has split up, there has been no visible activity for at least ten years, so they could be just on an indefinite hiatus. From about 2000 onward, Hogg has been releasing her own albums, some solo and others in collaboration with like-minded travellers, some are CD releases and others, like the album at hand are only available as download. Here, Hogg is responsible for piano and all vocals, while Natasha Petrovic plays violin and viola; other guest musicians include drummer Stu Reid, Josh Mahood on double bass, Troy Donockley on whistles, and Graeme Flowers on flugelhorn and muted trumpet. If the cover art doesn’t make it perfectly clear, Apologia – Pilgrim is an album of Christian oriented songs, composed and recorded between the start of the global pandemic in 2020 and during the subsequent lockdown. Hogg realized that she wasn’t prepared to navigate the many discussions regarding the pandemic that ensued, and was struggling to explain it with a biblical worldview in which she truly believed, and the eleven songs at hand attempt to chronicle elements of that journey. Each of these pieces has a powerful and emotional introspective feel, dominated by Hogg’s voice and piano, many pieces are akin to prayers, asking questions and stating her subservience to the savior. The twelve minute opener “Find My Way Back” certainly sets the stage for all that follow it, although most don’t reach anywhere near that length. Tracks like “Narrow Door,” “I Wasn’t There,” “Lost at Sea,” “Shepherds and Wolves,” and “Dream Destiny” are at once spiritual and thought-provoking, perhaps something of a guide for many who are asking similar questions. Her arrangements are concise and to the point, never excessive or self-indulgent, Apologia – Pilgrim represents a beautiful collection of heartfelt pieces.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Joanne Hogg

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