By Kyle Eustice
Soul provider Nigel Hall is in many ways an artist who needs no introduction. An in-demand sideman, he’s built a mighty foundation of R&B and funk over the years onstage and in the studio with collaborators including the Warren Haynes Band, Ledisi, Jon Cleary, Soulive, Oteil Burbridge and Roosevelt Collier, the Soul Rebels, Lettuce and countless others. Legions of fans are already well in the know about Hall’s copious keyboard chops and powerful vocal style. But even to them, his debut solo album will be a revelation – a confirmation that Hall has stepped out front and center into a creative space to call his own.
Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall, due out in digital format November 13 and vinyl November 27 (with the digital album pre-order starting October 16), captures the spirit of the songs that made Hall a musician. It was produced by Eric Krasno, guitarist and producer of a dizzying array of artists including Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, Talib Kweli, Aaron Neville and Matisyahu. Hall’s original compositions, from the blissful, sunny ‘60s-style soul grooves of lead single “Gimme A Sign” and “Never Gonna Let You Go” to the teasing, R&B kiss of downtempo cuts like “Too Sweet” and “Call On Me” show off a record collector’s pitch-perfect knowledge and a lifelong fan’s passion for gritty, muscular rhythm and blues, funky dancefloor rave-ups and sultry bedroom serenades. The album is a proper introduction to Nigel Hall for fans of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Charles Bradley, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, The O’Jays, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.
“Ladies & Gentlemen…Nigel Hall” Announcement Video:
Nigel Hall “Layaway” Lyric Video:
But Hall’s recent past is present, too; his Lettuce co-conspirator Eric Krasno shares writing credit on several of the original tracks, and longtime soul and funk collaborators like sax man Ryan Zoidis and drummer Adam Deitch, of Lettuce and Soulive, lend their talents. So does fellow crate-digger Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, who guests on a cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Lay Away” along with former Rolling Stones sideman Ivan Neville. Cover choices including Ramp’s “Try, Try, Try,” written by Roy Ayers, Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” and Latimore’s “Let’s Straighten It Out” – deep album cuts from the back pages of golden-age R&B – reveal a true student of the sound.
Nigel Hall grew up in Washington, D.C., in a highly musical family. His fingers first touched the keys before he hit kindergarten age, and his ears were wide open.
“I grew up with records,” he said. “That’s why I’m obsessed. My father had a vast collection. I’d be in third grade with my Walkman and everyone’s listening to Ace of Bass, and I’m listening to “Return to Forever,” Chick Corea’s fusion project with Stanley Clarke. The vintage sounds of “Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall,” infused with his electric freshness, together make both an audible autobiography and Nigel Hall’s musical mission statement.
Nigel Hall is also a relatively new resident of one of America’s most sonically significant cities, a place that has always respected the power of history. Since relocating to New Orleans in late 2013, Nigel Hall has been embraced by its world-renowned music community. In early 2014, a feature in its premier music-focused magazine, Offbeat, enthusiastically welcomed Hall as “a perfect fit” for the vibrant city and its singular culture. The Times-Picayune’s review of his solo debut at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival the same year crowned him with a comparison to Southern funk godfather Art Neville.
“I like to sing songs that reflect my being and who I am as a person,” he said.
“Because that really touches me. When you hear a song and it makes you cry, or it makes you happy or it evokes any kind of feeling, that is music. That is what music is supposed to do. And music is the last pure thing we have left on this earth. It’s the only pure thing.”
Nigel Hall Record Release Shows:
November 16th New York, NY Blue Note (two shows)
8pm show: http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/moreinfo.cgi?id=13773; link for 10:30pm show: http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/schedule/moreinfo.cgi?id=13795
December 1st New Orleans, LA Tipitinas
December 19th Denver, CO Cervantes’ Other Side
- Gimme A Sign 3:23
- Don’t Change 3:45
- Too Sweet 5:23
- Never Gonna Let You Go 3:22
- Try 4:16
- Lay Away 5:56
- Let’s Straighten It Out 4:03
- I Just Wanna Love You featuring Alecia Chakour 3:23
- I Can’t Stand The Rain 4:06
- Call On Me 4:16
Links for album pre-orders: