“Hale is digging deep and revealing through music the travails and pleasures of living life”
CD REVIEW IN BOOTLEG MAGAZINE August 2009: Ed Hale has recorded a solo album away from his Brit Pop band Transcendence but hasn’t left the pop sentimentality too far behind, using the skill to help shape something acoustically raw and introspective. Ballad on Third Avenue is rich in memorable and pleasantly catchy songs that eschew common trappings of a larger sound in favor of recording more sparse and intimate material. It succeeds in practicing restraint and in also telling stories weaved through American landscapes. The album recalls the jingly soft sounds of late sixties bands that seemed to crystallize sugary melody versus stomping easily all over it.
Hale, at times, will sing in a near hushed whisper that is guttural, careful and crackling. He sounds like a gritty version of Bono. That’s not a slight, Hale’s warm singing style is a plus and helps sell songs such as the album’s title track and the gently driven `Scene in San Francisco.’
The album is not an immediate grab. The slow pace and humble delivery makes it stand out after the fact, after it ends. It’s the person in the room you notice later, the one you wished you’d noticed earlier. This quality makes Ballad on Third Avenue a surprise, a gift that keeps giving. It’s indifferent and coded and may take a few spins before it begins to tattoo itself on eardrums and heart strings. Ballad on Third Avenue is a work that seemingly aims to be just left of field – a warm blanket instead of a quick pick-me-up. It’s textured and sometimes harrowing sound is a winter’s morning, a love letter to the past and indeed rich in imagery. Take a sample lyric from `I Walk Alone’ – “And those lights by the bridge shine through the night of my eyes.” Hale is digging deep and revealing through music the travails and pleasures of living life.
Brian Tucker/Bootleg Magazine/Wilmington, NCShare: