The majestic acoustic-pop and soft intimacy of Ed Hale’s Ballad On Third Avenue will feel right at home to the same crowds that love the music of Wes Anderson movies, Rubber Soul-era Beatles, Bright Eyes, Simon and Garfunkel, or even Nick Drake. The lead singer of the popular Brit Pop/modern rock band Transcendence with hit singles and songs in films and television shows over the years – snuck into the recording studio late last year and produced the most personal and intimate album of his career. The tracks are a luxuriant tangle of acoustic guitars, pianos, organs, xylophones, lush cello lines, and mellotron flourishes that set a gorgeous sonic backdrop behind a lyrically poignant and confessional masterpiece of infinite beauty that from start to finish sucks you in and leaves you moved and dreamy-eyed. Ed Hale has always been hard to keep up with – over the years playing the role of writer, populist blogger, controversial YouTube star, outspoken political activist, or civilian diplomat but on his first solo album in six years at his very core Ed Hale is a passionate and possessed singer and songwriter capable of crafting magnificent musical jewels that captivate and sound instantly classic.
Produced by Fernando Perdomo and Ed Hale.
- Folk and Acoustic Music Review
- Miami New Times
- New Times – Broward/Palm Beach
- Louisville Music News
- The Phantom Tollbooth – While this is not an essential disc for your desert island, it has at least seven songs that earn their place easily, and several of these are pretty strong. You never feel that this is a disc that is wasting your time or electricity; rather, it is one to enjoy – unless you have just split with someone you love!
- babysue – We had to spin this disc several times before coming to some conclusions about the music. Not because the songs sound all that different…but because it wasn’t immediately obvious from which universe Ed Hale was coming from. After letting his music soak in, we were reminded of several different artists who Hale reminds us of at one time or another. We can hear some traces of Harry Nilsson in his music as well as some of the softer elements of the band Johnny Society. But on other occasions some of the melodies remind us very much of John Vanderslice. Ultimately, we determined that Hale isn’t really trying to sound like or copy anyone. The songs on Ballad on Third Avenue are basic, smooth pop tunes with smart arrangements and intelligent lyrics. We particularly like the fact that Ed has a cool restrained voice that is particularly appealing. We definitely found that the more familiar these tunes became the more impressed we were. Eleven smart reflective cuts here including “Scene in San Francisco,” “Hello My Dove,” “It Feels Too Good,” and “Never Let Me Go Again.” Cool stuff. (Rating: 5+)
- Indie Music Stop – “In his first solo effort, however, he can add another accomplishment to his list: creating a magnificent album that instantly draws in even the most finicky music aficionado and holds them there until the very end.”
- Eartaste -“The stars lay scattered in the open sky and these lights by the bridge shine through the night of my eyes.” The poetry is enhanced by the musicians each walking through the melody in a sparse but meaningful way. A fine composition. The heartfelt desolation is honest. “Flowers bloom in the middle of deserted lawns. When the winter comes these flowers will be dead andgone.”
- 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.
- Americana Roots #78
- Planet Mellotron
- Dagger -Terrific NYC singer songwriter who has a nice, understated voice and is subtle musically too (one of his strengths). At times he reminds me a bit of mark Eitzel (on his solo records, not A.M.C.) while others a bit like Harry Nilsson. Opener “Scene in San Francisco” is a perfect opener while the hushed “Hello My Dove” brings more of an M. Ward/Mark Kozelek vibe into it all. Hopefully this guy will get more notice and recognition than a few lines on the DAGGER site ‘cos he deserves it.
- Musiciens (Beautiful Losers, European edition review)
- Roots Time (Beautiful Losers, European edition review)
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