In a world where everyone and their accountant are putting out music, it can be overwhelming to sift through the sand to find artists that stick out. This is why outlets like ourselves exist — to help guide you to select artists worthy of your ears who you may not know.
One such artist who’s been putting out his own ear-catching spin on indie dream pop music for a good while now is Los Angeles songsmith Henry Hall. (not to be confused with the late great English bandleader Henry Hall, known for the 1930s banger “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”) And if that name jingles a little bell, it may be because he is the offspring of comedic legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall. And when listening to his music, it’s clear the humor apple doth not fall far from the tree.
“I think you have to have a sense of humor about everything in life because no matter what we do, we’re all followed around by the fact that we could just croak at any moment,” Hall told us in a 2020 interview. “That makes life and ambition kind of absurd, but if you look at it optimistically, it’s kind of hilarious. So to combat that absurdity and darkness, you might as well laugh at everything. That sentiment is something I want to get across in my music, without a doubt.”
That sentiment is received loud and clear.
Aside from his humor, Hall’s strongest asset is the wildly impressive range and depth of his voice. This and his seamless blend of indie pop, R&B, rock, and other genre variations. Hall often sings in a joyfully dreamy falsetto vocal, and delivers killer harmonies and overdubs in his production. His songs are also dynamic and versatile in terms of his tempo changes, rhythmic progressions, and production choices, rarely delivering a dull or repetitive moment.
The album kicks off with “Morality Glory,” which starts with some Tuvan throat singing-style sounds, leading into a lava lamp-like groove with some wavy wah-like guitar riffs. The drums hit heavy, and Hall’s notorious high registered singing soars to the heavens. “Everyone at work loves me / I hold the door so lovely / For guys and girls it’s all the same,” he sings, putting his cheeky comedic chops on full display early, often, and throughout. The semi-psych rock groove evolves into a quick percussive shuffle around the 2:20 mark, showing his versatility and dynamism.
With the opening sounds of a pitter-pattering rain, the third track and May single, “Suddenly a Kiss,” offers an R&B-ish sultry vibe. “Here we are / Hangin’ out / Maybe you should just sleep over / It’s too late to drive,” he sings with soothing seduction. The chorus reverts back to his familiar dreamy indie pop groove, and his lyrics continue to illicit smiles and terrific imagery. It showcases just how quick chemistry and connection can change, wondering where it all went wrong. “Well well well well well I’m happy for you / No longer lovers,” he belts out to the heavens around the 3:20 mark. The earth-quaking power of his voice is truly a force, and the juxtaposition of lyrics versus production versus instrumentation is something you don’t often hear.
His June single, “Baby in a High Chair” shoots out of a cannon, and without fail, the humorous picture-painting spills out in a hurry. The bass line is groovy as hell, and the song as a whole has some turbo-cosmic vibe that’s not quite of this earth. The frenetic and neurotic energy comes to a halt around the 1:33 mark, which leads to serene guitars and atmospheric chilling- a mighty fine contrast of sound before kicking back into the thick of the groove.
His eighth track and July single, “Weight,” taps back into his funky fresh and groovy vibe, opening with the line, “Every morning when I wake up there’s a weight on my doorstep,” before kicking in with a borderline erotic groove fit for a Shaft movie. Ultimately it’s about the back and forth of your friends helping you out when you’re down and out, but also understanding you can’t always rely on others to pick up your “weight.” This is another one that so delightfully devolves into instrumental chaos, as Hall is fantastic at changing up tones, tempos, and timing.
The thirteenth and final track, “Me and Hannah G,” offers a gentle acoustic introduction, and with his floating and lilting vocals on full display, he longs to give all his T-shirts to this crush of his- he’s just waiting for her to break up with her fucking boyfriend. The chorus ramps up the energy levels with a driving percussive shuffle, and is a great sing-a-long track to wrap things up.
“I’m a huge fan of Bob Sacamano, Kramer’s friend who we never meet (I don’t think). He is God to me,” Hall also told us in 2020, as we had to get in some Seinfeld questions. Check out the album, and next time you watch Seinfeld, drink every time Kramer mentions Bob. (you’ll be pretty sober tbh)