Run Barefoot Holler may be Greg Hall’s debut album however do not regard him as an inexperienced musician just entering the realms of the industry. For this is a man who has featured alongside New Zealand’s The Veils as well as the likes of Beth Orton and Jamiraquoi. The experience of such ventures has quite obviously – in a professional manner – rubbed off on Hall’s musical development.
The acoustic tones of the record run throughout its course and offer – at times – a hugely fascinating backdrop upon which Hall looks to weave his way through. The opening album title track offers a rhythmic acoustic sound that would be not be out of place on a Cave Singers record, which is of course a compliment in itself. While this may make one think that this is perhaps just a straight up acoustic affair this perception would not serve to convey the prominent cellos and pianos that feature heavily alongside the hypnotic acoustic beats.
Throughout the duration of the record it is the music that rings truest. The likes of Shadow Pound, Falling Rain and Frayed Man offer wonderfully soothing tones that seem to show an artist battling to offer something against the grain of today’s folk music. The lyrical content of the latter two aforementioned tracks are written about Hall’s sister’s self imposed exile from the comfort of his family and it shows. The emotion gradually manifests itself within the words and vocal as Hall sings of his personally individual experiences.
Hall’s vocal is one that requires a certain degree of getting used to – at times it is hypnotic while at others it is fair to say that it is a little monotonous. There remains a sense of a lack of diversity within certain tracks as while Falling Rain is a truly interesting affair the likes of Run Barefoot Holler don’t quite aim to hit such intriguing heights.
It seems rather pertinent that Run Barefoot Holler should culminate in an instrumental track that seemingly blends the instruments on the record to a satisfying climax. This is ultimately an expression of the key strength of the record as a whole. It is through the musical compositions that Hall truly expresses his ability as a songwriter and musician.
Greg Hall’s debut record is one of great promise from a musician who has finally found the time to compile a group of songs written over the past four years. As with a significant level of first time ventures into the solo arena an element of inconsistency can exist which ultimately works against the record as a whole. However it would be fair to say that the high points out weigh the low and make the record a worthwhile investment of time – as the beauty of the album’s musical landscape create some excellent moments of clarity.
Run Barefoot Holler is available now, via Photogram Recordings