If you caught Leigh Gregory's CDs (here and here), you're going to like Ed Hale's work as well. He writes in that lush folk vein claiming such antecedents as Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, the Waterboys, Procol Harum, Simon & Garfunkle, Mickey Newbury, etc. In whole, Ballad on Third Avenue is not quite as billowing as Gregory's stuff but definitely walking the path. Unafraid to incorporate cello, flute, balalaika, mellotron—non-standard instruments all—he crafts tableaus of refined vistas in which his plaintive vocals ably disport and exclaim. There's a Leonard Cohen-ish vibe running through things here but never so darkly, as Hale's atmospheres veer well away from the stark emotional deserts Lenny prefers.
Despite the composer's American residency, there's a pronouncedly British vibe running through the entirety of Ballad, a literacy and style of encanting that says 'London' or refined 'Birmingham', nor is the high style of the 60s and 70s very far from the oeuvre. The subject matter isn't exactly what one would call 'Americana' either:
But you know that your tirades they hit me hard
A number of cuts, It Feels Too Good being one of them, are scaled back, normal folk ditties well wrought. New Orleans Dream brings on a decidedly strong Donovan feel with the faintest tinge of Marc Bolan, so there's no way you're going to escape that English refrain, Winston, just sit back and enjoy. It's an entrancingly hypnotic cut reminiscent of Leitch's mid-period, when the troubadour was waxing more expansively romantic. And so goes the entirety of this disc, an intoxicating trip back to when music possessed a lot more in the way of wistful pastorality and personal imprints.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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