Trevor Hall

Trevor Hall

Trevor Hall

The Rascals Have Returned

Geffen Records

Despite minimalist production (exemplified by the album’s seemingly meager use of electric instruments and Hall’s feigned echoes), this Chris Martin-from-Cold Play lookalike’s four-song EP (and debut for Geffen) packs a sweet punch. The sparse production is, in fact, the album’s refreshing charm because it forces you to focus on the raw but melodic character in the Hall’s voice, as well as the rhythmic nuances in his guitar playing.

Naming Bob Dylan among his inspirations, Hall’s music isn’t straight rock or folk, but an orchestrated hodgepodge that enhances the album’s feel of an impromptu jam session. Particularly with “Proof of Destruction,” Hall delivers his vocals in a reggae style that sometimes borders on calypso (“The Rascals Have Returned”). On yet another tune (“Under the Blanket”), a syncopated Bono meets Eddie Vedder vocal styling, rendered in an unexpected, sugarcoated hip-hop flow (lyrically, “Proof of Destruction” is the only song on Rascals that comes close to hip-hop with its declaration “you’re leaving nothing for the youth, just the proof, of destruction…”). Deftly, he handles these variances without sounding forced or contrived.

Such diversity has enabled the prodigious Hall to tour just as easily with Ziggy Marley as with Keb Mo, Steel Pulse, and Stevie Nicks. Backed rhythmically by previous tour mate Ben Harper’s percussionist, Leon Mobley, playing the more primal or ethnic percussion of bongos and djembe, Hall’s soft-spoken vocal moments on “Under the Blanket” and “The Lime Tree” are even a bit reminiscent of Harper’s “Fight Outta You” et al − the South Carolina native doesn’t deny that Harper is an influence. But ultimately Hall has merged his repertoire of muses, which includes an affinity for Indian culture, to create his own unique style.

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