The last Fay Hallam release was the collaboration with The Bongolian known as Lost In Sound, which was an incredibly popular release, not least because it was a really good album. Now Fay is back with a solo project on the Blow-Up label, Corona. And it’s not what you might be expecting.
The pre-publicity talked of bossa nova, The Carpenters, Beck, 50s pop and even a Paul McCartney cover. Not exactly prime ‘mod’ material. But definitely the kind of thing that captured the interest of this particular reviewer. After all, why keep producing the same thing again and again?
In reality, the album isn’t quite such an extreme departure. But it is certainly more eclectic than you might have expected.
Some material is pretty much what I would have expected from a Fay Hallam release – Soul Revolution for example, is a funky groove with a bit of hammond stabbing about in the background. The soulful Sunny too (no not that one) is another track that doesn’t drift too far from what I expected, while Let Me Into Your Soul is happy playing around in the land of funky mod-friendly beat.
But then you get those jazzy, bossa grooves, such as (surprising) laid back album opener Se Mi Ami, as well as Arco, which is a prime bit of Brazilia, the kind of thing you might expect of the jazz scene of the ‘80s and Beck, which hints at jazz, but with one foot firmly in the mainstream world. The title track and lyrics suggest a tribute to the man himself. Whether that’s the case, I don’t know. Lido mixes the bossa rhythm with some hammond for a pleasant enough easy-esque instrumental.
And that’s not the only departure. 1000 Blue Ribbons is a slice of easy pop, Giving Myself Away is the kind of thing you’d expect on a soundtrack, a rather dark groove with a big production – you know what I mean. Touch of the spaghetti western about it if I’m honest. Without A Smile doesn’t quite fit into an easy-defined category either – a voice and a subdued backing. I think it’s generally described as ‘atmospheric’. Similarly, Summer’s Love is all about the voice and the production, both of which are very appealing. Not a million miles away is Stars, different backing, but the same laid back, late night tempo.
Oh yes, room for a cover too. Not the first time Maybe I’m Amazed has been tackled, but this is miles away from the Carleen Anderson version, a low key take on the track that gradually builds with the help of the backing singers and the hammond. Another great ‘late night’ (yes, that again) groove.
If I was reviewing another Lost In Sound, I would probably be mildly enthusiastic, knowing I’d heard it all before. The fact that this is so different is perhaps what is so appealing. Whether that’s the case for you, I don’t know – to depends on your own taste, obviously.
But personally I think this is a brave album and a very good album, featuring a number of songs that seem to have a familiarity about them despite only being written in the relatively recent past. It’s a mixed bag of styles and influences , but a bag that holds together well as an album and one that definitely appeals to me.
Corona by Fay Hallam is released on heavyweight vinyl, CD and download in October via Blow-Up.