Ed Hale: “So For Real” – a near perfect album

The imagery Ed Hale conjures with his music on the album “So For Real”, is beautifully captivating. His sound is perfectly nestled between indie, country, folk, rock, pop, and a little of everything in between. Singer-songwriter Ed Hale has savored the Billboard AC Top 40 and carved out his lane in College Radio and Alternative Rock Charts for the last 20 years of his genre-bending career. Hale who speaks 5 languages, is also known for his social/political activism and his humanitarian work, as well as Civilian Diplomacy efforts toward world peace. The sense of possibility, that anything can happen, combined with a restless spirit and a determined soul. These are the sights and feelings that his album, “So For Real” evokes for me.

The vocals are charmingly rustic, placed behind the organic instrumentation, and there’s a reverberating sound to the production that makes the songs feel simultaneously big and airy, yet somehow intimate.

As for listening to the album on headphones, you will discover just how richly layered the sounds are and how many little notes, tones, and extra rhythms are present. An ambitious songwriter blessed with a hooky pop appeal, the sheer lushness of Ed Hale’s melodies means that his songs never become distressingly trite.

Ed Hale brings a uniquely amazing accumulation of richness and harmony to his music. Very beautiful stuff, to say the very least. Put together with the nostalgic flavors of musical eras gone by, “So For Real” becomes almost irresistible in places.

From the moment the upbeat indie-pop of “Summer Flowers” opens the album, the listening experience becomes a musical adventure that flows together perfectly. This opening song is an immediate attention grabber, with a wonderful carefree textured sound. As you listen to it you get lost, and when it’s over you’re positive everything you heard was real.

Each individual song tells stories everyone can identify with, and the album as a whole is like a book of short stories. “Tell You True” kicks in on a syncopated beat that leaves you craving more when it’s over. Comparisons with early Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes are apt, but “So For Real” feels more celebratory, optimistic, and never contrived.

“Gimme Some Rock n’ Roll” keeps the upbeat momentum of the first part of the album consistent, with its glam rock undertones. Musically, “The Prince Of New York” reminds me of the sumptuously layered art-rock made popular by Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra. A driving beat and rich harmonies combine to thrill and emote.

With “Stephanie’s Song (It’s Alright It’s Okay)”, Hale brings a taste of Americana to the table, fiddles and all. Full of introspection and heart-on-your-sleeve redemption, “Marsha’s Sleeping”, forges a sweeping arrangement and passionate vocal delivery. There’s a soothing quality to the tone that Ed Hale uses, but it doesn’t put you to sleep, it actually energizes you.

The highs on “Honestly and the title track, “So For Real”, come organically – in touch with the truest, most heartfelt emotions of man, and they are delivered with pristine beauty and an emphasis on straightforward sincerity. With a resplendent big band arrangement, “Baby Blue Doll” closes down the show with its groovy rock n’ roll motif. This is a winning formula which is hard to imagine ever growing old.

Out of the blue, sometimes, something magical happens, and that rare, nearly perfect album emerges from the crucible of modern songwriting, recording, and performing arts. For me, this album is as close to perfect as any I have heard this year, and moreover, these are the kinds of tunes you don’t mind having lingering inside your head for days on end. I liked every single song on “So For Real” – an extremely rare occurrence.


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