Ed Hale’s upwards trajectory continues unabated with the release of his latest album “So For Real”, which was released via Dying Van Gogh Records last month. Probably best known as the singer, songwriter and guitarist from the eclectic Brit-pop/indie rock band Transcendence, Hale already has more than two handfuls of album releases credited to his name. He has been written and spoken about, in the printed and radio media worldwide, and has toured throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. Ed Hale has also savored the sweet taste of the Billboard Top40 chart while carving out his own niche. His current musical playground and his new album is a reflection of everything Hale has accomplished thus far, sounding both contemporary whilst embracing the past.
Songs that nod to the melodic push and pull of classic Britpop punctuate the album, any lover of those soaring choruses and the chiming guitars of that much loved of eras will have plenty of moments to embrace here but there are also glorious curve-balls and moments when the indie-rock urgency creeps in, as well as an innate series of rock n’ roll twists and turns bolstered with luscious and imaginative production.
Not that the album wallows in sort of mythical past – there is a freshness and urgency of sound to the record, with great crisp vocals and, of course, an endless collections of great guitar lines and brisk energetic playing from the band that makes the record feel absolutely contemporary.
Of course the album’s key musical architect is always going to have a whiff of classic rock nostalgia about his songwriting but there is so much more here than that. The opening track, “Summer Flowers”, has an introspection within its driving rush that gives the song a heart melting beauty. It positively drips a visceral emotion and a glorious melodic progression.
“Tell You True” is a rasping bass driven piece with thumping drums that drips perfect pop reminding you that despite everything Ed Hale is also great pop writer. And if the previous song reminded you that Hale is a great pop writer, “Gimme Some Rock ‘n’ Roll” is the definitive proof, in a song that is jam packed with hooks and a rollicking rhythm.
Ed Hale is probably one of those guys whose life is full of music, armed with an endless record collection and a deep knowledge of the craft. His musical pores sweat melodic electricity and finds its voice – quite literally – on “The Prince of New York”. The singing here is strident and confident, as the song is constructed around its lead melody and the rich full harmonies on display.
For me this is the best song on the album by far. “Stephanie’s Song (It’s Alright It’s Okay)” steps right into an alt-folk arena, riding on the back of a two-step strumming acoustic guitar and dancing strings, before Hale changes the tone on the bittersweet sweep of “Marsha’s Sleeping”.
Ed Hale has found a way to reach into his bag of tricks and find a little bit of everything for this album. Hale, of course, has a Beatle-esque ability to create instantaneous melodies that linger long after you hear them. A case in point is “Honestly”, which is ingrained with utterly distinctive guitar chords and memorable refrains.
“So For Real” slides by with comforting ease before Hale closes the show down with the hip-swaying “Baby Blue Doll”. Ed Hale exists on a musical level beyond the need to honor major label contracts, or to prove any particular point, yet he continues to provide approachable and alluring albums that grow more and more impressive with each listen. You can now add “So For Real” to that list.