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One to Watch: Nigel Hall

For a long time, the only inclusion of Nigel Hall music amongst my catalogue was via his 2-song contribution to Soulive’s ‘Up Here’, released in 2009 via their Royal Family Records label.  Laying his lush vocals on ‘Too Much’ and the band’s reworking of Andre 3000’s ‘Prototype’, I was happy to find out that the marriage of the two would potentially be extended into Nigel Hall’s debut release as a signee to the label.

Although the Royal Family release has unfortunately yet to happen since those two years have passed, more importantly, what seems to have almost passed me by, is that he already has an album out, dated as far back as 2006.  ‘The Face of Things To Come’ has MP3s which are readily available to download from Amazon and iTunes, and is clearly a ridiculously poor reflection on my research skills.

And seeing how many gems are actually waiting to be heard here, what a ridiculous shame it would have been had this one got away!  The uptempo sing-along nature of the album opener ‘Destination’ is a terrific one to kickstart things to, and the thick and delicious slice of rich soul on the bonus cut, ‘In Love Again’, equally brilliant.

There are a few instrumental tracks which don’t actually connect as well as the vocal ones and, although one of them is a nice tackling of Incognito’s ‘Always There’, it can be a little frustrating – in the absence of appropriate inlay card or album credits – to actually ascertain Hall’s input or involvement in these songs.  Is he drumming, playing bass, doing the running man, etc?

Honesty must prevail as I confess it’s certainly not all good listening though, as ‘Don’t Be Shy’ screams as the song to prove the point.  I’ve actually tried on three separate times to listen to it but genuinely can’t get all the way through it.  Maybe it’s my slightly bashful and prudish nature, but why dudes ever want to do songs about… y’know, them being alone… and bored… y’know, no one around… y’know... y’know… Please tell me you know as I’m running out of hints here?!

The ‘absence of appropriate inlay cards’ is another personal battle.  I’m unsure at this time as to whether hard copies or CDs were ever available but I sure can’t find any trace that there ever was.  But the search continues… as it always does!

Even though I’m still pining for the Royal Family release, along with ‘The Face of Things To Come’, the treats just keep on coming: Soulive’s 2011 DVD release ‘Bowlive – Live From The Brooklyn Bowl’ features fantastic live performances with a host of friends and musicians, including Ivan Neville and Warren Hayes, but also with Nigel Hall taking centre-stage on several songs, and performing on none better than the two back-to-back James Brown covers, ‘Soul Power’ and ‘Give It Up Or Turn It Loose’ (both featuring the awesome drumming prowess of The Roots’ Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson).  (MP3s of ‘Bowlive’ are also available to purchase from iTunes and I can’t recommend it enough!)

It does feel like we’re still waiting for Nigel Hall’s ultimate breakthrough opportunity and fingers crossed 2012 will be the year it happens.  In the meantime though, there’s a huge amount of great music from him out there to whet our appetites!


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