Hall puts it together
By Alan Sculley
Last Word Productions
"That was a new thing for me," Hall says during a telephone interview. "I never really did that whole thing where you meet with writers and you try to write songs together. I always thought it was a little impersonal — just kind of meeting up with somebody, and they know nothing about you, and you know nothing about them, and let's just write a song and make a hit."
It was there he met a producer and songwriter named Jimmy Messer.
"And as soon as we kind of got together," Hall says. "It just kind of sparked, and I thought, 'Oh man, this is good. I like this.' "
It dawned on Hall that he had not only found a compatible songwriter but the person he wanted to produce the new CD.
"He was really into it," Hall says, "and we just kind of went with it."
"Everything Everytime Everywhere" is still very much Hall's vision, but Messer's involvement is apparent. Half of the CD's songs are Hall and Messer compositions, and Messer produced, engineered and mixed the CD.
Hall already had enough on his plate as the "Everything Everytime Everywhere" project was taking shape.
He was changing managers and his touring band, as well as dealing with issues that went beyond his career.
"I was having a little bit of family trouble," Hall says. "Then on top of that, within my own, I think, spiritual journey, I was having some struggles. So all of those things were kind of coming down on me kind of hard."
The trip is worth mentioning because, in a sense, the new CD didn't really feel complete to Hall until he was in India.
"I was with a teacher of mine over there, and we were talking about all of these things, and I asked him, I said 'I've been having lots of struggle holding my stance, I guess my spiritual stance, in all of this kind of chaos in the world,' " Hall recalls.
"'What do I do if my environments don't really support my spiritual life? I asked him this, and I was expecting some big instruction or something I could do. And he just looked at me and he said 'Everything Everytime Everywhere.'
"As soon as he said it, I knew what I would name the new album," Hall says.
Themes of spirituality are nothing new for Hall, and several songs on "Everything Everytime Everywhere" speak to comfort in the face of difficulties ("All I Ever Know") and spiritual renewal ("Brand New Day" and "The Mountain").
Musically, though, there are a few notable shifts. As on his previous releases — a 2006 EP, "The Rascals Have Returned," a 2008 concert CD, "Alive & on the Road With Chris Steele," and a 2009 self-titled CD — Hall continues to blend pop and reggae as key musical elements. But he branches out on songs such as "Fire," a hard-hitting tune with some tasty electric guitar, and especially the meditative yet musically rich ballad "The Love Wouldn't Die."
" 'The Love Wouldn't Die' is probably the most different kind of style and sound that I've ever done, but that's like my favorite song that I've ever written," Hall says.
Overall, Hall felt he took a very natural approach to his new material.
"Like, if it was a reggae song, we were like, hey, let's go all the way reggae," he says. "And if it's a rock song, hey, let's go all the way rock 'n' roll and not worry about if it fit together or not. And then at the end of it all, it just fit together."