With a name like Hieronymus Bogs, eclecticism is almost expected. The Rochester folk artist and group of musicians that embellish his craft—the appropriately-named Bogs Visionary Orchestra, or BVO—harbor few inhibitions and fully live up to their respective monikers. Bogs’ unique vein of rootsy outsider folk enmeshes poetry and performance, nearly evading traditional classification altogether. The end result is an art form equal parts unconventional and embraceable, a sonic tizzy of spoken-word poetry and folk-tinged orchestration.
On his latest release, a nine-track collection of songs and poems titled The Angel (titled after a William Blake poem of the same name), Bogs (and company) keeps the instrumentation delicate and organic while his often interpretive lyrics remain soaked in folklore. The album’s title track introduces the main theme with a tenderly played piano backdrop, Bogs singing longingly over top—“I dreamt a dream, what could it mean?” The very opening line captures the album well—dreamlike, contemplative.
Beyond the storytelling of the title track, the album sprawls beautifully. “Andariega” sounds like a cryptic ancient waltz, further asserting themes and tones—“I know the Earth, the Earth knows me / I’m wanderin’.” Poem “The Ascending Mind” flows perfectly into brooding number “I Wonder,” lush with bowed bass, violin, and accordion. The instrumentation throughout the album courses wonderfully and although eclectic, is never overbearing. This is especially evident on “Grappling,” a gentle track featuring an astoundingly appropriate arrangement of banjo, piano, lap steel, and flute.
True fans of folk music will appreciate this album immensely; the storytelling and arrangements are nothing short of entrancing. Enjoy closing track “Men Without Machines” below and follow the link to check out the rest of Bogs’ extensive discography. The Angel is available for streaming on Hieronymus Bogs’ Soundcloud page here, or available for purchase through a number of online music outlets including iTunes and Amazon Music.