Decades ago, before the first rock and roll idols turned music into a product, musicians played music the way cobblers mended shoes and carpenters built homes. It was a trade like any other job and men did it for work, for wage. Young men would pack their station wagons with gear and travel from city to city to play their songs. For these musicians, it was not only all they wanted to do but all they could do. They were not in search of fame or fortune. It was simply a life in music. Welcome to the world of Will Hoge. In life, and on his brilliant new album, Draw the Curtains, Hoge follows in the footsteps of musical archetypes like Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Hank Williams, Van Morrison, Patty Griffin, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. These artists inspire him not just for their work, but for their approach to their art. They exist outside the traditional economic constraints of "success" and "failure," and do their own thing on their own time. "They would all be playing music whether there was money in it or not," says Hoge. "All of them would be homeless rather than do something else. In my mind, you're either a musician or you're not." So is listening to Hoge. Draw the Curtains, his first album in nearly two years and his fourth collection overall, is a tour de force of authenticity, covering sounds from country and roots to rock, soul and R&B. It's music the way it was meant to be played, with a rock-is-my-life, let's-hit-the-road attitude. "The thing we were able to do this time was not worry about the bullshit 'what-sounds-good-on-the-radio' thing," says Hoge, who has recorded in the past for a major label. "You can't chase a record. You get to the core, make it as good as you can make it and suffer the result." Hoge appreciates the simplicity of the approach. "If it moves you, then it's done. If it's perfect-but you're still not moved-then you've still got work to do." Hoge's music is the unwavering sound of a born rocker. Hoge filters rock, soul, folk, blues and country through a prism of emotional authenticity. What emerges isn't a reinvention of the wheel, rather something undeniable, and the very definition of a force of nature. It is the music a man makes as he approaches the peak of his craft.