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Review: 'HALL, GREG'

-  Label: 'PHONOGRAM'
-  Genre: 'Pop' -  Release Date: '3rd October 2011'-  Catalogue No: 'PHOG005'

Our Rating:
GREG HALL is a multi-instrumentalist who has worked with the likes of Beth Orton and Red Snapper to name but two. This is his debut long player written and recorded over a period of four years and heavily influenced by two sojourns to South Africa.

Opening song Runbarefootholler sets the tone. Finger picking guitar, strong melody and vocal harmonies. All this is underpinned by restrained cello work. It already sounds like the kind of thing you might hear placed with a product between shows on the TV. The Good You Do is even stronger. The subject matter is his sister and it is a very affecting track, slightly melancholic in feel. Shadow Pound again pulls at the strings aided by simple tinkling sounds, the vocals ever so slightly harsher. “What say we lie down, watching my shadow pound.”

Only Be Lying has a flamenco guitar flavour to it. Whilst the vocals on this track are not exactly buried in the mix I am not sure they quite marry as they should or could. This Ain’t Love takes us down again and the vocals and melody remind me a little of Noel Gallagher and this is not a criticism. Falling Rain is a weak spot on the album. He Robber retells the tale of Greg being robbed on his travels from a slightly different perspective i.e. who that man is or may be? “He shares nothing but pain”. The cello is a little more strident on this track and basic percussion keeps it moving along.

Bright Light lets itself down with too many poor rhymes. A Frayed Man is again based around steady finger picked guitar. This works well as it conjures up travel to the listener. Again this track is about his sister and perhaps indicates that the most heartfelt songs in this collection work best. The final track is simply Instrumental and suffices as an album closer. This may have been better as an album opener.

If I was to be critical I would say that the album weakens as it goes along and can be a bit samey. On the other hand there is no doubt there are some very strong songs here and I could easily imagine say The Good You Do going over very well with a 6 Music audience. The biog claims it is far removed from current folk trends but perhaps these are the trends it ought to align itself to.   

Listen to Greg Hall at Bandcamp           
  author: Leo Newbiggin

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