Risa Hall,
Second Chance
(Red Disc, 2013)

Interestingly enough, Risa Hall went to the same high school (Forest Park High) as Simon and Garfunkel and the Ramones. Originally taking a different career path, she went into acting, appearing on Broadway, in touring companies and doing a lot of voiceovers. Then she heard KT Tunstall and Nerina Pallot and got her head turned around.

Now, instead of a New York actor, she is a British-based singer-songwriter. It's probably a good switch because as a singer-songwriter, Hall shines. Her voice is throaty, husky and convincing; you feel as if she knows and believes what she is singing, that the sounds are coming more from her heart and soul than from her throat. Her sound is a blend of jazz, blues and rock, ranging from the pure rock of "Can't Take Away" to the jazz of "Jazz Lullaby." Most songs, though, do not fall purely into one camp or another, but throw the genres in a mixmaster and puree them until they blend perfectly into a whole that is bigger and better than the sum of its parts.

If your taste in female singer-songwriters runs toward the safety and predictability of a Linda Ronstadt or the peppiness of a Taylor Swift, then Risa Hall may not be to your liking. If, however, you have a sense of adventure and you want to hear a singer going to the edge and back, taking risks in both her writing and singing, then Second Chance is for you.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

17 August 2013

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