Halford's Western Storytelling
Bruce Von Stiers
Critics have compared Jeffrey Halford's songwriting to John Fogerty, John Prine and even Ernest Hemingway. Drawing on life experiences has made his songs extremely appealing to blues and Americana fans.
Halford has performed worldwide and recorded some very successful albums. Now he has a new album with his band, The Healers. It is a story based album titled West Towards South.
West Towards South has ten songs and a play time of thirty-four minutes. It was produced by Halford, Adam Rossi and Don Zimmer. All of the songs were written or co-written by Halford. The album is being released by Floating Records.
The members of The Healers are Adam Rossi and Billy Macbeath along with Halford. Rossi does percussion, keys and vocals. Macbeath is on bass and does song arrangements. And Halford is on lead vocals and guitar.
Helping out on the album are Tom Heyman, Don Zimmer, Mark Karan, Dave Coltrara, Alyssa Joy Claffey, Kevin White, Scott Amendola and Rob Hooper. A side-man for artists such as Chuck Profit and a solo artist, Heyman plays guitar and steel pedal on this album. Zimmer, one of the founders of the Floating Records label, plays guitar here. Besides playing for Huey Lewis and Dave Mason, Karan has also had his own bands. He helps out on guitar for the album. Having worked on other albums for Floating Records, Coltrana plays bass on this album. Also playing bass on the album is White, who has played with Billy Preston, Susan Tedeschi, Shelby Lynne and others. Playing the drums is Amendola, who has done sideman work for numerous artists including Pat Martino, Joan Osborne and Rebecca Pidgeon. Hooper also plays the drums.He's played with Carolyn Wonderland among others. Claffey has played on other Floating Record albums and plays with High Mtn Heard. She plays the violin on this album.
The title track, West Toward South, begins the album. With some drum laden blues in the background, Halford does a narration. We find out his song character's name is Ambrose and he's heading out, along with his brother Cyrus and a wagon full of weapons. It is an interesting lead in to how the rest of the story unfolds in the remaining songs on the album.
Deeper Than Hell has some cool country blues guitar.
Dead Man's Hand reference's the infamous poker hand that Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was killed. The song also mentions Ambrose and Cyrus, who were introduced in the title track.
Willa Jean is a mellow toe-tapper about a modern woman in an old western time.
Three Quarter Moon is a moody ballad with some cool guitar.
Card games and dangerous women are what A Town Called Slow is all about.
Sea Of Cortez is a soft and gentle ballad.
Gallows, as the title might suggest, is dark and moody. It tells about townspeople coming to watch a desperado, Ambrose, being hung at the gallows
Sad, yet wonderful sounding violin opens Geronimo. Halford has some aching vocals in the song.
The album closes with a gentle ballad detailing the breaking up of the brotherly duo in the Ballad Of Ambrose And Cyrus.
Not too often does someone try to invoke a story throughout an entire album. Mostly it's just a song or two. But Halford really makes it work here. Desperados, family, loyalties and women are central themes in the songs on the album. It's like Halford took a story from one of those old time dime western novels and put it to music. And while this album isn't exactly a true blues or soul album, it does incorporate those styles into a kind of Americana format. I thought that the music was great, the vocals solid and the storytelling of the songs was excellent.
West Towards South is available in the digital marketplace at the moment and soon will have a physical release date.
You will find Jeffrey Halford's official web site at http://jeffreyhalford.com/ And to learn more about Floating Records, visit https://www.floatingrecords.com/
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© 2019 Bruce E Von Stiers