Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
Lanae Hale by
"...find a big back porch, pour a glass of lemonade, and take twenty minutes or so to listen to this strikingly beautiful EP."
Lanae Hale’s 2007 EP self-titled release finally allows me to experience an artist I’ve imagined existed but haven’t heard as of yet. Ms. Hale’s vocal styling incorporates a tone that is similar to Jewel’s but adds the masterful phrasing Billy Holliday was known for. The collection itself makes me feel as if I’m sitting on the big back porch of a farmhouse overlooking the pond at sunset. I’ve got a good friend with me and as she strums her guitar, we talk about life and its inconsistencies all the while aware of a greater Presence than our own.
Ms. Hale’s songs seem to have an intentional nature to them, especially when one considers her lyrics. She has done a very good job of taking some important themes and expressing them without ostracizing anyone who might not share her Christian faith. The instrumentation and arrangements used are very reminiscent of something John Mayer would put together, which is definitely a good thing. Ms. Hale also has the good fortune of being able to use the EP as a format for her debut. The six songs her production team has chosen to include give the listener a good idea of what Ms. Hale’s musical vision looks like, and her clever lyricism colors that vision with hope, truth, and reality.
The EP begins with a light and breezy pop song about the weighty subject of failure. The song is a plea to “let it be spring again” with a promise not to forget the bad decisions of the past. The acoustic guitar that drives the song gives it an upbeat feel, and I’m thinking this is just one method Ms. Hale has used to get her message across. A more somber song may lose the interest of the listener. I hope this is what Ms. Hale was intending; otherwise I’m not sure why she uses the contradiction between song and subject matter to be the most notable feature of this particular track.
I appreciate the transparency Ms. Hale shows on “Alive Again” which carries the sentiment of the first song to another level. Her lyrics move us from a place where we are aware of our failings to a place where we are assured of grace. The bridge is really a great showcase for the power and flexibility of her voice as she goes from lighter breezy sounds to harder growls all within two measures.
“Love is Worth the Fight” somehow brings to mind the early work of Glen Campbell. The railroad strum of the guitar is surrounded by more traditional background vocals and that combination gives the track a real folk/country feel with a throwback sound. Steel brush on the drums moves the song along at a fairly quick tempo, and at 2:38 it is the shortest song on the EP.
The second half of the EP begins with the gorgeous “Stay,” a song that serves as a vehicle to carry Ms. Hale’s voice to an almost transcendent level. To be honest, I had to go back and pay attention to the lyrics because the voice itself was so captivating. I listened more to tone, inflection and vowel sounds than actual words on the first few spins.
Rounding out the CD are the catchy “Start Over” and the plaintive “Quiet Place”. Of the two, “Quiet Place” really captured me. “Quiet Place” is stripped down to arpeggiated guitar chords and Ms. Hale’s voice, which is a brilliant production move because the guitar is a perfect accompaniment for Ms. Hale’s prayerful song. Her voice glides throughout, sometimes rich, sometimes lofty and light, but always full of passion as she expresses her desire to have her “dear sweet Savior, come rescue me in this quiet place.” In my opinion, this is the song that shines above all the others on the EP simply because of its stunning delivery.
My hope is that I’ll hear quite a bit more from Lanae Hale. I love the EP format, and it’s served her well on her debut, but now I’m hungry for more and hope to see a full-length album in the near future. There’s definitely a market for Ms. Hale’s art that blends folk, pop, and acoustic sounds in a way that only a select few female artists are doing right now. Her honesty as a songwriter and her transparency as a human being will be connecting points for what I suspect will be a rapidly growing fan base. My recommendation is that you find a big back porch, pour a glass of lemonade, and take twenty minutes or so to listen to this strikingly beautiful EP. You’ll be a part of that growing fan base well before the last song spins.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com