Going into my first listen, I was under the impression that Hoseff was a gypsy, or at least that his chosen genre should be preceded with the word: gypsy punk, gypsy blues, gypsy dub step, or something like that. But, “Heart Hunter” is more eclectic than I expected, featuring a range wide enough for a whole bunch of flavors without ever losing its thread completely. Still, I don’t know what to call that often catchy, sometimes moving aural throughline, so I’m going to drop it because there’s real meat on these bones.
The follow-up to 2012’s “Modern Gypsies”, his sophomore effort is an 11-song jaunt that only runs 37 minutes. It feels especially quick because you’re cycling through the ups and downs of a relationship between friends that gets strained by one’s addiction. Timely though it is, it would have been sooooooo easy for this to devolve into the maudlin. The minor miracle here isn’t how Hoseff handles the heavy stuff, but how he takes the topic seriously enough without taking himself so seriously that he can’t make you smile from time to time. Otherwise, the heartbreaking turns wouldn’t hurt enough.
He also takes chances that pay off. For example, “I Need You Tonight” which, on paper, shouldn’t work because it sounds like a croony 50s pop ballad that was accidentally inserted halfway through the album. But it’s lovely.
The next track, “I Heard You Were,” written by Melissa Ferrato, plays like a dirge, mourning the moment you’ve given up on someone when it feels like the end. “I heard you were doing those things, I just don’t want to know. Once in awhile, you get caught up in something. You don’t know what to do. Doing those things, I just don’t want to know.”
The songs on “Heart Hunter” are sweetly human and full of grace, even when they’re rolled in confusion and pain, like on “Free”: “I went from trainee to retiree. Where does that leave me? Where does that leave me? Free.”
“Helpless” and “Don’t Know About Love” are standouts that have, according to his press release, already been well-received by his fans. However, my favorite is “New Day”. A whiff of deluded optimism in the lyrics maintains its upbeat, bouncy nature without tipping the balance to favor the emptiness of a Hollywood happy ending or the kind of fatalism that renders hope moot. With the narrator’s fate up for grabs, you cut the tension with a reasonable amount of faith as he sings “I can’t help but wonder how I made it this far. But every mistake I made somehow turned out right in the end. I cut my losses and I’m moving on.”
I’ll be singing that for a few weeks.
Mixed and co-produced by Grammy-nominated David Mayfield, “Heart Hunter” is available November 1 and features guest appearances by Anthony Papaleo (Mo’ Mojo, Duchess), Jayson Benn (Shivering Timbers), Justin Tibbs (Acid Cats), Angie Haze and the aforementioned David Mayfield. More information is available at Hoseff.com