Rooted in reggae, with room to grow
Saturday, August 1, 2009

By DENNY DYROFF, Staff Writer

Trevor Hall, who headlines at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia tonight, is a singer-songwriter from Southern California who makes music that's far removed from the traditional "strum a few chords and tell a story" genre.

Much of Hall's roots are in reggae. His music, lyrics and vocal style are based on the fundamental reggae music created two decades ago by Jamaican greats Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Culture and Black Uhuru.

"I got into reggae music when I was young," Hall said during a phone interview on Wednesday from a tour stop in Connecticut. "I loved reggae right from the start when I heard the music of Bob Marley, Steel Pulse and Jimmy Cliff. I still love it today. It has such a spiritual vibration."

Hall lived in South Carolina until he was 16, when he moved to California to attend Idyllwild School for the Arts, an international boarding school east of Los Angeles.

When he was a senior in high school, he signed a deal with Geffen Records - but it only resulted in one EP before he was dropped by the label last year.

Undeterred by the setback, Hall soldiered on and began working on a new album on his own. The result was "Trevor Hall," which was officially released last week on Vanguard Records.

"I have four albums out, but I really feel that this is my first record," he said. "I recorded the album in January. It took about three weeks. It was very spontaneous and most of the songs were very new.

"I didn't write with any particular style in mind. It was just whatever comes through. I try to keep it very open. The whole process was spontaneous.

"I brought demos in to give the band direction and we worked on the songs together. Whatever came to their mind was cool.

"We've toured around the states a lot, but we're just now starting to get noticed. Things are coming around. It's just starting to reach fruition. It's good that the word is starting to get out because we just released the new album. The timing is right."

Hall's music and his lifestyle are very spiritual - but not in the traditional sense. He draws inspiration not only from Rastafarian reggae, but also from world religions and Eastern philosophy.

"The message is the key," he said. "I'm all about the words. Sound is one thing, but what you're speaking about is more important."