With the label's support, he entered Memphis' famed Ardent Studios to record his official debut, Carousel, with engineer John Hampton (the Replacements
, Gin Blossoms
). The album was released in 2000, and Blackbird on a Lonely Wire followed in 2003 (albeit without Baird
, who'd left due to the band's demanding tour schedule). Record sales were slim, though, and Hoge found himself receiving minimal attention from his label. Requesting release from his contract, Hoge was made a free agent.
Following his departure from the Atlantic
roster, Hoge combined a relentless tour schedule with a string of independent releases, from live albums and brief EPs to a full-fledged studio effort (2006's The Man Who Killed Love). Rykodisc
took note of Hoge's work, particularly his 200-plus shows per year, and signed the artist. Draw the Curtains, Hoge's fourth studio album and first effort for Rykodisc
, was released in October 2007, followed by -- what else? -- an aggressive fall tour. Recording sessions for another record began in 2008, but work was temporarily postponed on August 20th, when a scooter accident left Hoge severely injured. Months of physical therapy followed. Hoge focused on his recovery for the remainder of 2008, eventually returning to the studio project in 2009 and releasing The Wreckage later that year. Hoge put out his seventh studio album, the appropriately titled Number Seven, in September 2011.
He and co-writer Eric Paslay
received 2012 Academy of Country Music (ACM), Country Music Association (CMA) and Grammy nominations for Best Country Song for "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," the opening track on the Eli Young Band
's album Life at Best. In December of 2012, Hoge released the digital-only EP Modern American Protest Music, which included the songs "Folded Flag" and "Ballad of Trayvon Martin." In October of 2013, Never Give In, his eighth full-length, was released by, Cumberland Recordings. The album's first single, "Strong," was tapped by Chevy for its 2014 Silverado pickup truck ad campaign. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi