Michael Hall

Day

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Equally a product of Austin roots-singer/songwriter traditions, apocalyptic Velvet Underground miasma, and Neil Young/Crazy Horse wiredness, Day marks the fourth solo release from former Wild Seeds/part-time Setters/now Chicago resident Michael Hall. Besides Young, Hall evokes a number of performers mostly in the soft-spoken tragedian class -- without descending into imitation, including fellow Austinite Alejandro Escovedo, New Yorker Freedy Johnson, and the twilight wit of Warren Zevon. Like most of these peers, Hall does not have what one would call your "pure" singing voice. But lack of range is compensated for by naked emotion and deceptive intensity, carefully camouflaged by a hypnotically casual demeanor.

Backed by various members of the Poi Dog Pondering/Mekons axis, Hall sparingly weaves violin, accordion and trumpet accents through acidic electric guitars, insistent keyboards, and sonorous stand-up bass. The sleeve's storm-red sky-scape conveys perfectly the foreboding, understated mood of most tracks, the amiable country shuffle of "Heaven Know How" excepted. Other defining moments include dramatic pop/rocker/ tale of self-delusion "Los Angeles," the sonic turbulence of "The Museum of Giant Puppets, PA," the sombre, phased resonance of "Ghosts," the dry, desert breeze of "Red River," and the Euro-cafe chill of "Las Vegas" ("And when they ask you why/Tell em they sent the wrong guy..."). A must hear.

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