Risa Hall,
New York Nights
(RH Records, 2014)

Risa Hall, a NYC transplant to England, is a committed performer who gives as much of herself to her music as Joni Mitchell or Melissa Etheridge. With Hall, the music is real, touchable and tangible. She breathes her music into the microphone, and these emotions and feelings flow out like waves until the listener becomes a part of the process. In this way, Hall demands the listener's attention, and most definitely gets it.

In "New York Nights," Hall's vocals are clear and crisp, like a late autumn night, with the tang and smell of apples and leaves, and the fresh air that breathes into a city right before the long nights of a cold winter. In "Air of Availability" there is a lovely, lush flute that starts off backing Hall, and serves as counterpoint to the lament this song seems to be. Hall sings of the woman who doesn't "want to be left on the shelf," and this song makes the listener remember the days of yearning for love and just being noticed; of the quiet desperation of so many, male or female, that want to be alive to someone else.

Hall is backed by some excellent musicians with a just right blend of flute, percussion, lead and rhythm guitar, bass and fretless bass. None of them overwhelm Hall, yet serve to underscore her singing as well as the song itself. There are musicians and other artists today with a strong base of fans who use PLEDGEMUSIC to assist with production of albums, and allow the artist the integrity of doing her own work, with her own people, and not have to "tart it up" with special effects, auto-tune and the like to make it more palatable and commercial. In producing this album with assistance from a number of devotees, as well as friends, family and a number of people of good will, I suspect this album will become beloved.

As Hall's lyrics and music resonate within the frame of each song, the listener is drawn to the fast pace of each part of the city, the diamond-hard quality of dashed hopes, and the desire to be more than one is. So many can only dream of striding down a NYC street with dreams to catch, hold onto, and to realize. With New York Nights, Hall has lit a spark that will resonate not only with her old fans but the new ones to come.

music review by
Ann Flynt

25 October 2014

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