Oakley Hall – Second Guessing and Gypsum Strings

by Woody on December 30, 2006

Oakley Hall

Another thing I really like about Rolling Stone is their magazine installment, Artist To Watch. One of their recent installments reminded me that I forgot to mention a great band on the HearYa Top 25 albums of the year. So before I continue, I would like to offer my apologies to Oakley Hall because they easily should have made our top 25 and I simply forgot to mention. So go the perils of having infant twins.

All I can picture when I listen to Oakley Hall is a rather bohemian bunch piling out of an Old VW van into some run down honky-tonk, plugging in their hand-me-down instruments and tearing the place down. Oakley Hall released two albums in ’06, Second Guessing and Gypsum Strings. They are unique and very different from one another, and they are both fantastic.

Oakley Hall’s first release of ’06, Second Guessing, had me thinking of The Band’s collaboration with Emmylou Harris on The Last Waltz. The vocals are shared by Patrick Sullivan and Rachel Cox. The harmonies mesh well with the extensive fiddle and banjo that are present throughout the album. Cox reminds me of a young Donna Godchaux in that she is able to sing so effortlessly with a male lead and deliver the goods on her own as well.

While the whole album is strong from start to finish, my favorite is “Landlord”, a song where Sullivan tells of how his “father’s father’s father” escaped execuction at the gallows. Claudia Mogel’s fiddle blazes away throughout this song to lend the feel of Sullivan sitting on a porch with his grandkids as he tells him about his pappy’s gran-pappy. His lyrical story-telling will remind you of DBT.

While Second Guessing is more alt-country in nature, Gypsum Strings kicks you square in the teeth right from the onset. Greeted with a rumbling bass line and a whole shitload of distorted guitar, I almost thought I had downloaded the wrong album when I first listened to it. Ah, but then Sullivan and Cox practically jump out of their skin, belting out the first lines of “Confidence Man” and you know you have found a phenomenal band able to run amok through all pre-conceived genre labeling.

If “Confidence Man” and the third song of the disc, “Lazy Susan” don’t make you stand up and take notice, then you are either dead or a Yanni fan. The rest of the album blurs any label you could give them.

So again, my thanks to Rolling Stone for reminding me of my egregious error of leaving Oakley Hall out of our top 25.

Gypsum Strings

From Gypsum Strings:

Oakley Hall – Lazy Susan MP3

Oakley Hall – Living in Sin in the USA MP3

Second Guessing

From Second Guessing:

Oakley Hall – Landlord MP3

Oakley Hall – Eyes, Lock and Steel MP3

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

joly December 31, 2006 at 7:30 pm

Great pic!

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