Songwriter Dave Hall Time Out New York Review

Music Preview: Joe's Pub

 

Dave Hall's latest CD, True (GiuseppeJoe), distinguished itself amid the glut of new music in 2000 thanks to its unadorned grace and a largely melancholy mood. With nary a drum loop, remix or token rock-god guitar solo, Hall's third album relied successfully on lilting choral voices, a few well-placed organ swells and delicate violin and cello. String interludes and two adaptations of J.S. Bach's cantata Sheep May Safely Graze (Hall wrote countermelodies and lyrics over it) punctuate the 14-song release, revealing the musician's wish to place the emphasis on his often heartrending verses.

 

The Brooklyn-based guitarist is a courageous storyteller, one who tends to write about his life's more tragic events, including learning of a friend who died alone of AIDS and hearing about the murder of a backwood female couple. Yet for every despondent musing, Hall can be equally mirthful. "Biff and Tony's Wedding" could be his giddy folk-pop response to the Defense of Marriage Act, and the unexpected meeting between two former lovers in "Garden Party" becomes universally tangible with the sardonic line, "We told each other we were doing well/Tacitly avoiding any mention of past hell."

 

Though Hall often plays stag, he'll be backed by a full band tonight. This will give the classically trained guitarist the opportunity to treat his audience to the chortle-inducing, country-tinged "God Is Wide," a cautionary tale about the more narrow-minded among us, the "macho babe hijacker/Panting at the line of scrimmage/He makes God in his own image." Hall's prior releases, Playin' the Man and Places, took a more boisterous acoustic-rock route than his latest effort, but tonight's CD-release party gig will likely find this quieter, more serious material energized by the wry, rowdy troubadour lurking within.