Indie Phenom Trevor Hall Releases Unity & Plays the ROXY, June 26
By Taylor Van Arsdale, ULM
Every once in a while you come across a CD that you just can’t put down, one you play over and over and over again. This happened to me with Coldplay’s X&Y. It’s happened again, with Trevor Hall’s latest album Unity. Don’t misunderstand, Hall sounds nothing like Coldplay, but just as X&Y spoke to a nation hungry for lyrics about love, life and our shared world view, Hall’s Unity provides us with a spiritual message. His songs are introspective, soul-searching yet hope-filled, and his songwriting is straight forward, but when combined with haunting orchestral arrangements and his melodious voice Unity gives one a satisfying variety of perspectives on humanity with easy tunes and great food for thought.
I caught Hall’s gig at the Arbor Collective—a surf/snowboard/skate shop in Venice, California, and a very cool place to check out a band. When off stage, Hall is such a shy, unassuming personality, you would not think him capable of belting out such expressive, gritty sounds. And yet, he’s one of those rare performers who sound even better live.
An eclectic spirit, Hall’s Golden Rule is to, “learn to feed everyone, love everyone, serve everyone and remember God.” He says his mantra, “Goes beyond distinction of creed or color. It’s about learning to be a good person.” Indeed. There’s a deep, spiritual thread running through the musical fabric of this gentle artist; inspired by Reggae, world and Indian music and culture.
This South Carolinian native has been playing and performing for as long as he can remember. For his 15th birthday, Hall’s supportive father—a drummer—secured him time at a record studio. Hall took a selection of his songs and recorded his first album, which was sold mostly to friends and family. He recalls his father had a “massive CD collection” which Hall attributes to helping him find his musical path. He then spent time at the Idyllwild School for the Arts of which Hall says, “My time there was some of the best years of my life.”
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Hall released an EP with Geffen Records, an indie album, This is Blue and toured the country with bands and artists such as Ben Harper, The Wailers, and many others representing the full spectrum of folk and rock. It was, then President of Geffen, Ron Fair who heard “Other Ways” and says Hall, “Thought it would be a good song for the movie Shrek the Third. He [Fair] called the director and gave him the song.” Hall acknowledges being on the soundtrack “helped in many ways” as more people were exposed to his music.
On July 28 he begins the next phase of his musical journey with the Vanguard release of, Unity. Drummer Chris Steele and bassist Mario “Super Mario” Pagliarulo join Hall on the tour. The album is filled with emotionally moving songs, and Hall’s throaty voice infuses these refreshing tracks with a tang of sweetness. On “Where’s The Love” Hall sounds like an islander bemoaning the horrors of killing in the name of love and God. With lyrics like, “So many gods but no love for the people/ my momma told me that we’re all made equal. What we fighting for? Why we still at war?” Where’s the love? Where’s the love?” Hall asks us to look inside ourselves to find brotherly love and overcome our differences because ultimately we are the same, living as he sings, “under the same sky.”
One of my favorite tunes is “Lime Tree” with the refrain, “It took a while for you to find me/ because I was hiding in the lime tree/ above the city in the rain cloud/ I poked a hole and watched it drain out.” I ask him, what does “The Lime Tree” represent? And, if it is the love song I hear it as, are you still with the person who found you? But Hall won’t reveal the meaning behind his most poignant song, saying, “I don’t want to ruin what other people may feel it’s about. It’s a very mysterious song and it’s still kind of mysterious to me as well.” On “Who You Gonna Turn To” Hall’s insightful analogies, such as "This life is like a drop of water in a frying pan" urge us to stay in the moment. Hall himself adheres to this principal. When I ask him what’s next he tells me, “I take things day by day. I don’t know where I’ll be next month or next year but I hope I’ll be playing music.”
We hope you’ll be playing music too, but we also know where you’ll be this Friday and that’s at the Roxy on June 26. Don’t miss this great show!