CD Review — Hope Anchor’s Never Gonna Let You Go

never-gonnaIf you should live out in Toad Suck, Arkansas (it’s a real place, look it up), the name Hope Anchor probably doesn’t immediately conjure up much, except perhaps some vaguely nautical term. But residents of the first colony to declare its independence from England know Hope Anchor is a direct reference to the seal of The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (or as the cool kids simply call it – Rhode Island). Now if you happen to be one of them crazy music-lovin’ types, then you know Hope Anchor to be a Rhode Island supergroup, containing former members of various top area bands coming together to create well-written, cutting edge rock.

Formed in 2005 by Cranston native Terry Linehan, who had previously held the enviable job as backup guitarist for Green Day on their North American Tour, Hope Anchor came together as a project with impressive songwriting as the main objective. Accordingly, Linehan enlisted experienced, like-minded musical recruits Paul “Pip” Everett (formerly with Blizzard of 78) on vocals, veteran bass player Jack McKenna (of Backwash fame), drummer Paul Myers (also of Blizzard of 78),  violin/cellist Matthew Everett, and the previous guitarist of Hope Anchor, former member Eric Fontana (formerly of Mother Jefferson), who still appears with the band on select occasions.  Collectively, Hope Anchor has released arguably one of the finest albums to come from the biggest little state in 2013, the highly eclectic Never Gonna Let You Go.

Each of the disc’s nine tracks illustrate the band’s diverse sources of inspiration, ranging in styles from ’80s pop-tinged melodic rock, to the post-punk / new-wave sounds of the Psychedelic Furs, with even some Beach Boys-influenced harmonies thrown in the mix. To underscore this diversity, the disc opens with “Get Away Blues,” a heavy-driving, blues rock number that immediately declares these guys are loaded for bear. Throughout, Pip plays some relentless electric harmonica, with a confidence usually reserved for lead guitar slingers.  In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought I slipped in a Young Neal & The Vipers disc by mistake!


In contrast, the upbeat “Here We Go” is a three-minute slice of jangly power-pop, which introduces a tastefully punctuating horn section. The much darker “Got To Be Alright” contains some powerful lyrics, sung in subtle shades of Michael Hutchence: “We sat down on the back porch, the birds are singing time, if you climb in my overalls I’ll show you a good time – my mind was in the gutter till you hiked up that dress, you sent my heart a thousand miles and now its truly blessed.”

Much like Blind Faith, The Traveling Wilburys, and Foo Fighters before them, Hope Anchor contains individuals who have enjoyed at the very least a modicum of success, in their previous incarnations. And as Never Gonna Let You Go proves definitively, when combined the sum of their parts equals one hell of a powerful rock & roll outfit.