Friday, May 28, 2010

Undiscovered Soul: Lynden David Hall

Lynden David Hall (vocals, multi-instrumentalist; b. 1974 - d. 2006)

British Soul music gets a really bum wrap (especially from the British press) for trying to sound too American. Well there were/are a short list of British artists who are part of a next wave of Soul (Beverley Knight, Lewis Taylor, Mica Paris, Carleen Anderson and Roachford et. al), who continue to pave a new artistic direction for British Soul. Lynden David Hall embodied the best elements of both American and British Soul and was among the top of the class.

Hall wrote, played most of the instruments and co-produced his albums. He music was positive, yearning and dripping with emotion that could move mountains.

Rightfully compared to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Al Green, Lynden David Hall burst onto the British scene with his 1997 debut, Medicine 4 My Pain (EMI; 1997) which featured a slew of phenomenally rich collection of Nu-Soul that really did put allot of American Soul to shame at the time. The album was garnered solid chart success but it really amounted to quality of the songs like the beauty "Sexy Cinderella," "Crescent Moon," "There Goes My Sanity" and more. It's hard not to fall in love with Lynden's voice on first listen as it will definitely remind out of the great soul singers of 70s but then you realize that the lyrics are even more incredible. All this coming from someone who was only 23 years old.

Hall's second album, The Other Side (EMI; 2000) continued where Medicine left off. Employing a little more funky pounding bass into the proceeding and of course an extra dose of maturity sent the signal that Lynden David Hall was here to stay. The album was self produced and featured some heart-wrenching and thought provoking numbers like "Where's God," "Sleeping With Victor," "Dead And Gone" and magnificent and appropriate cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Let's Do It Again". For me its hard to decide which of the first two albums is better. I lean towards The Other Side only because of production values. The writing is strong for both.

In 2003 Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma which would keep him from recording and releasing what would be his final album In Between Jobs (Random Records) until 2006. The six year wait seemed like only a few months. In Between Jobs contained the same easily accessible and romantic crooning as its predecessors. Wiser, sexier and more sophisticated, In Between Jobs was again written and produced by Hall himself and featured the funky "Pimps, Playa's and Hustlers," "Don't Hide Your Heart" and "Memories and Souvenirs" all make the comparison to Marvin Gaye even more apparent. One of the main themes throughout Hall's music is love and devotion and In Between Jobs showcases that in spades especially on uptempo and love letter "Stay Faithful". The music is simplified, complimentary and never overproduced. The lyrics as with his previous albums are front and center with no vocal histrionics or electronic gimmicks.

While well-respected in the U.K., Hall remained little more than a cult figure in the U.S. but he was definitely known and loved among those Americans who were fans. He is one those artists that you will probably end up listening to at least once a week after you become addicted. Solid songwriting and quality musicianship makes his albums, including the Medicine 4 My Pain (now over 10 years old), sound fresh as ever. Hard to say what he would have achieved if he wasn't taken so soon. But Lynden David Hall's legacy definitely lives on. Highly recommended.

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