Florian Hofer - 'Reaching' (Graviton Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 03:40

FlorianHoferReachingFlorian Hofer is a 26 year old musician from Hannover, Germany. Brought up on his stepfather's record collection, a musical diet of Motown and '70s psychedelic rock. Heavily influenced by Neil Young's 'Heart Of Gold' as a teenager he picked up a guitar and proceeded to learn that song, studying the works of Jimi Hendrix soon followed. Forming his own band and touring Europe saw Florian end up spending time in Poland jamming and recording with a drummer and Scorpions bassist Pawel Maciwoda. Touring Europe and the States as part of a band led to Florian settling in LA as a solo artist.


'Reaching' is a self-produced album split into two parts that were recorded in different time periods. The first 5 tracks, 'East Coast Tales', are newer songs recorded last year and the following 7 tracks, 'West Coast Tales', were recorded in 2010. There is a notable difference in quality between the two.


'Walk Into The Light' has Hofer crooning from the off, his distinctive vocals sounding very similar to chart botherer James Morrison, with not a hint of a German accent, so no Euro Rock nightmares here thank god!


Guitar wise there is plenty of Hendrix influence going on in the title track, just little subtle nuances, tasty little snatches of wah-wah here and there, just enough to add texture and feel, never overpowering or in the face guitar shredding, it's classy and sassy. I also hear a good bit of Richie Kotzen influence in his playing and his vocals, those choppy clean guitars sounding just fine.


'Why' could easily fit on 'Let Love Rule', the debut album from Lenny Kravitz, that's how good it is. Great use of space, warm bass lines and Hofer's rich tones suit this so well, absolute quality.


Harmonics and a bluesy riff signal the beginning of 'Leave Me', simple use of guitar and a backing bass drum beat for Florian to sing and jam runs over, more akin to The White Stripes or any number of guitar/drum duos doing the rounds, but Florian's distinctive vocals make things just that little bit different.


'Let It Out' is a more raucous Hendrix influenced, bluesy workout with crashing drums and guitar. Florian really lets rip here to show what he is capable of, James Morrison jamming 'Crosstown Traffic'? You'd better believe it!


Now on to 'West Coast Tales' and things take a severe dip quality wise, not in songwriting or playing I hasten to add, but in the actual quality of the recording. The first songs are notably quieter and whereas 'East Coast Tales' sounds like a tight 3 piece band pretty much live in the studio, the drums especially in 'Telling Lies' sound tinny and cheap, akin to cheap drum machine demos. The following 'Can You Feel Me' sounds quieter again, which is very annoying and quite frankly a shame really as the songs themselves sound great. The guitar playing on these earlier tracks in noticeably rockier too, the Kotzen influence more dominant back then I would say.


The acoustic 'Carrying' brings things up again, sweet and simple just Florian and his acoustic guitar, coming on like a Chris Cornell acoustic offering, chilled and nice to the ears.


'Reaching' is a mixed bag really, some great songs but let down in part by some under par recording. I know this was intended (there are even two versions of the title track) and it does show how he has progressed between the recordings, but I can't help feeling that maybe if Florian had been able to re-record some of these tracks, it would flow better and actually sound like an album rather than a mash of odds and sods.


Above all 'Reaching' does prove that Florian Hofer is a great singer/songwriter and an accomplished guitar player. He has developed his songwriting skills and taking note from his heroes understands that a song doesn't need to be busy or complicated to be good. The future is looking bright for this talented young man.