Forest Folk Club (Lydney UK), August 2011
Performance: Forest Folk Club, Lydney UK, August 21, 2011
Review by Mike Taylor, The Reinvigorated Programmer
“There’s a lot to love about Chloe & Silas… They are a perfect combination — much more than the sum of their parts… Superb”
Folk music: Chloe and Silas hit it out of the park
My quest for what I’ve been calling folk music but might more accurately be described as “singer-songwriter” music got a big boost last Sunday night. I went again to the Forest Folk Club, less than ten miles from where I live, and where I played my own first tiny set a couple of week previously. The evening’s main act was Chloe and Silas, and they were superb.
Exactly what I’d been looking for.
There’s a lot to love about Chloe (Hall) and Silas (Palmer). Their songs are insightful and distinctive, and their performances finely judged and very clear. Chole is the headliner, for sure: songwriter, singer and guitarist, and she could carry the gig on her own. But Silas adds so much, with distinctive falsetto harmony vocals, subtle percussion and the occasional comment on violin. They are a perfect combination — much more than the sum of their parts.
They played both sides of the interval on Sunday night, fully acoustic but very clear and audible. In an impressive bit of humility, they also listened appreciatively to about ten songs by others at the club, at the start of each half. (I provided two of them: a butchering of Joni Mitchell’s classic Little Green and yet another Dar Williams song, You Rise and Meet The Day, which together constitute my second folk-music performance.) I do wonder what they made of such amateurish bumbling. But anyway. That’s not important right now.
Although it’s obvious listening to Chloe that her songs belong to the same tradition as people like Dar Williams and maybe especially Suzanne Vega, there’s also something very distinctive about them. That’s in part because of the unusual tuning she uses — DADEAE — which results in chords with a lot of added seconds; she also tends to capo quite high up the neck (as you can see in the vidcap above, where she’s capo’d on the sixth fret) and plays chord voicings even further up, sometimes right up on the body of the guitar, well beyond the twelfth fret. This tends to result in chords made up of notes that are very close together, the guitar equivalent of close-harmony singing such as you might hear from barbershop quartets.
There’s a lot more to it than a unique guitar style, though. Chloe’s songwriting voice is also characteristic: it tends to be observational, drawing on specific details to illuminate generalities; while can be melancholy, it has a consistently optimistic tone and never slips into self-pity; and in fact a surprising proportion of the songs are downright cheerful, which one could hardly say of, for example, Joni Mitchell. The result of all this is that songs tend to feel emotionally warm even when the arrangements are sparse or even brittle — a juxtaposition that works to the benefit of both the songs’ themes and their sound.
I have to say a few words in praise of Silas here, too. His contributions are unobtrusive but hugely effective. The clarity of his harmony vocals, and their perfect synchonisation with Chloe’s, makes it sound as though there is just a single singer who can sing in harmony. The violin is all the more effective for being so sparingly deployed. The occasional passages of pizzicato playing work particularly well.
If all this sounds a bit abstract, listen to Tax Office Love Song — you can find it online in this player, but it cycles randomly through four songs so you may have to skip forwards a couple of times to find it. It starts out as an enumeration of the minutiae of office trivia, but from the start it’s affectionate rather than contemptuous. It sketches the narrator with a few well-judged strokes, then brings into the story a man she’s noticed but is too shy to talk to. What makes it work is not just the eye for the authentic detail but the way the music mirrors the hesitancy of the narrator, as well as its quiet hope. There is a tentative, stop-start quality to the wordless refrain that follows “heart”, “fat-free” and “photocopier”, which reflects the non-progress of the romace; but it’s not dead, it’s just stalled. In the end, it moves forward as far as a suggestion of sharing coffee. Who knows where it might end up?
And this is pretty representative. Most of the songs carry a similar emotional complexity — a surface emotion, but with another shining through the bald patches. So the songs have a weight and complexity that repays repeat listening.
Well, I was an instant convert. I bought their album Spring Hill, and I urge you to do the same. Four of the songs are included in their entirely in the player that I mentioned earlier, if you’re not convinced yet. I also got the previous album, Outside, and will pick up the earlier catalogue soon.
My next task: find a way to play Tax Office Love Song. If I can do it something like justice in standard tuning I will, but I might have to try that weird DADEAE tuning and try to replicate what Chloe does. The prognosis is not good, but you have to try.
Letham Nights (Scotland), September 2009
Performance: Letham Village Hall, Fife, Scotland UK, September 12, 2009
Review by Dave, Letham Nights
“Together with Chris Mildren on bass and Teal Bain-Roben on his tea-chest drum kit, the Chloe Hall Trio enthralled us from start to finish with their beautiful melodies and spine-tingling 3-part harmonies… you could feel the love in the hall!”
A Night to Remember with the Chloe Hall Trio
12th September will stick in our minds and hearts for years to come after a truly magnificent Letham Night with the Chloe Hall Trio and Vivienne Bern.
It was written on the stars that Chloe Hall and Letham Nights would come together. From the moment we received Chloe’s first email from the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia, asking to ‘take a punt’ on our venue, we knew she was a woman of great taste and discernment, not to mention talent and OH! how right we were!
Together with Chris Mildren on bass and Teal Bain-Roben on his tea-chest drum kit, the Chloe Hall Trio enthralled us from start to finish with their beautiful melodies and spine-tingling 3-part harmonies. Chloe’s lyrics tugged at our heartstrings, made us sigh wistfully, smile, sometimes laugh out loud and when combined with the stories behind each song well, – you could feel the love in the hall!
For her first set, Chloe went straight into a series of songs from her new album ‘Outside’ including the title track and ‘Shipwreck’ (Are you the one I’ve been waiting for? Are you the shipwreck, or the shore?”) and ‘Walking after Midnight’.
After this first set, Vivienne Bern from Glenrothes took to the stage and sat down with her acoustic guitar. She was nervous about having to follow on from such a great performance yet as soon as she began to pick out the introduction to ‘Your Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go’ by Bob Dylan, we knew we had another great performance to look forward to. Vivienne’s voice and guitar playing were effortless and she continued with a series of covers and self-penned songs. In ‘Forgive You’ she slipped effortlessly from a fragile, cracked style to gutsy blues. A cover of the Beatles’ ‘Help’ gave a great song new life and her rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘I’m Feeling Good’ left us all breathless. What a great talent she is and we look forward to hearing more of her own songs next time she plays Letham Nights – there WILL be a next time!
Chloe and the boys then returned to the stage and we were carried off again on a journey with the songs. The highpoint was the achingly beautiful and inspiring ‘Dance With Me’, a celebration of the power of love in the face of great adversity. Hear Chloe tell the story and then sing the song.
As Chloe says – ”a rare and precious moment of real connection and love”.
Thank you to Chloe, Teal and Chris – and of course Vivienne for … well, as it says in the final encore song, sometimes you need no words….
Review by John Warner, Folk Federation of NSW
Performance: The Loaded Dog, Annandale NSW, May 2008
Review by John Warner, Trad & Now Magazine Australia
“Chloe draws you in… she sings with a crystaline edge and with syncopation… her storytelling is open and fresh… the best I could do is to say go and hear her, buy her CD’s and fall under the magic of Chloe Hall”
The Magic of Chloe Hall
Chloe Hall sang at the Loaded Dog in Annandale on 25th May 2008, and it was magic. I spent a good bit of time afterwards trying to understand what the magic was.
After all, Chloe is a songwriter who writes about her emotional life, and I find most singers who do this not to my taste. Many of them indulge in random melodic wanderings among complex chords which add boredom to the psychic sediment. Chloe is way beyond this stuff. What, then, was the magic that held the Dog audience silent and spellbound at some points, and singing softly supportive harmonies at others.
Granted, the Loaded Dog is Sydney’s premier singing audience, with a great proportion singing harmonies. There’s a well established magic in the context, but Chloe brought a magic of her own.
Let’s look at the guitar. She uses an alternative tuning and builds her chords around the moving bass line. Others seem to use block chords. The tuning she uses seems to generate a waiting, pregnant tension. It opens a space and keeps that invitation open. Chloe uses pedal point structures, a fixed note around which chords move through harmonies and the odd intense dissonance. That tension has a breathless, waiting feel that keeps expectation on edge.
Chloe laughs, she watches her audience and makes eye contact. Her storytelling is open, fresh and she verbally invites us into the space made by her accompaniment.
She sings softly, with a crystaline edge and with syncopation. She has a big range and uses it subtly but powerfully, and all the time there is this sense of expectation, tension.
Chloe draws you in. Us shanty singers reach out, we project to the back and through the wall. Chloe does not lack the resources, but she chooses to draw the audience in. Hers is an intimate, welcoming performance.
What was superb about the Dog on the 25th May was that Chloe was as moved and delighted by the Loaded Dog’s singing audience as we were with her. There was a definite feedback loop in which Chloe kept throwing us stuff to sing, we made a meal of it, and Chloe laughed and sang more.
I could celebrate the way that Chloe brought the 12 string out of her splendid Maton 6 strings, the elements of Indian Sitar that turned up in some of her modal instrumental breaks. I could jump up and down about her being one of those great people that can take one of the cliches we all know and put her own special spin on it, but the best I could do is to say, go and hear her, buy her CD’s and fall under the magic of Chloe Hall.
Review by Mike Devlin, Times Colonist
Performance: The Dancing Bean, Chemainus BC Canada, September 2007
Review by Mike Devlin, Times Colonist
“The intimacy of a house concert is the perfect environment for Chloe Hall”
The intimacy of a house concert is the perfect environment for Chloe Hall. The Australian singer-songwriter writes superb, moving folk songs, and sings with a lilt that recalls British folk favourite Kate Rusby.
On her debut trip to Canada, Chloe has been making friends and fans in BC… Now it’s Alberta’s turn.
Review by Teresa Mallam, Prince George Free Press
Performance: Artspace, Prince George BC CANADA, August 2007
Review by Teresa Mallam, Prince George Free Press
“Nothing prepared me for [Chloe’s] stellar live performance. Hall has a free range voice, full of expression and her unique song stylings are truly little gems. She’s also a gifted song writer. I listened to every word of her original lyrics which are playfully witty, wonderfully wise or painfully true.”
Hall has power
Every once in a while you attend a concert that has you wondering why you’ve never heard much about the artist on stage because they sound so good. That’s how it was for me with Melbourne-based singer Chloe Hall when she graced Artspace last week.
I’d heard snippets of her acoustic guitar music on the web and played a few tracks from her publicity package touring album, White Street – one of the percs of covering arts and ertainmentent.
However, nothing prepared me for her stellar live performance. Hall has a free range voice, full of expression and her unique song stylings are truly little gems. She’s also a gifted song writer. I listened to every word of her original lyrics which are playfully witty, wonderfully wise or painfully true.
That kind of honesty in words can be disarming, but Hall has a way of smiling sweetly while she plays guitar and sings that makes you feel – even if the song is sad – that it’s going to be all right.
She sang songs from White Street including the meloncholy-laced title track inspired by her memory tour of her late grandmother’s house, “It’s all alive in me, beautiful memories…if these walls could talk, they’d tell a lifetime of you.” Beautiful. The singer songwriter shared a few brand new “hot off the press” ones too, penned during her recent road trip from Vancouver to Prince Rupert en route to Prince George.
“Back home [Australia] I have a reputation for love songs,” she began. “So I decided to write a song about being single.” Then came Shipwreck, a song with ‘I’ve been there’ lyrics. She was accompanied by cellist James Hazeldon who dazzled with his own musical talent. He plays with deep passion, often with closed eyes, swaying his body and tilting his head towards the cello, as if feeling every note.
Yet, when the song is over, he perks up and engages the audience with humor, like his running commentary about traveling in small vehicle with two female artists (Hall and Anita George) all their things and instruments.
“We’re doing 33 gigs in three months here in Canada and with so little space I could only bring along two shirts,” he joked. “Only the good gigs get this shirt – this is the best one.”
In another aside, he told the crowd about staying with Wells musician Yael Wand. “She has great shampoo,” he said, stroking his hair.”
Then just as easily, the musician eased into a One Foot on the Wire, a song about life being a juggling act where one hand smothers the fire, the other hand fans the flames. Both musicians had funny anecdotes about their trip to British Columbia and making new friends. Most of all, Hall likes the mountains, she said.
Hall and Hazeldon perform in wonderful harmony with a mixed bag genre of folk, rootsy, blues that is mostly easy listening kind of music.
Are We There Yet? was a real hit with the Artspace audience, maybe because it’s easy to relate to a song about “good intentions and bad directions” and long road trips which end happily when you get back home. How Many Roads about ways people fulfill themselves and All or Nothing were two more top picks of the night. The pair were joined for some songs by fellow Australian Anita George which just added to the magic on stage.
Comment by Christie Eliezer, themusic.com.au, June 2006
Comment by Christie Eliezer, themusic.com.au, June 2006
“Contemporary folk singer/songwriter Chloe Hall has been on the road touring “White Street” (out on Shock Records) since early June 2006. She’s crossed over the street press and community radio to ABC Radio and the mainstream papers. The new Susie Porter/Wendy Hughes film “The Caterpillar Wish” includes Chloe’s song “All Or Nothing” on the soundtrack.”
Review by John Warner, Folk Federation of NSW (jam.org.au) May 2006
Performance: North by Northwest, Gladesville NSW, May 2006
Review by John Warner, Folk Federation of NSW (jam.org.au)
“As a singer she is radiant, being one of those people who draws the audience into the mood she creates”
Her recording reveals her as a talented multi-instrumentalist, but the complex simplicity of the North By Northwest performance was all this writer needed to develop a profound respect for Chloe Hall”
This writer is usually fairly unimpressed by singer songwriters exhibiting their personal emotions and relational upheavals. Chloe Hall was able to powerfully impress this aging cynic.
The combination of cello and guitar is interesting by definition and James Hazelden is an expressive player who also has a highly acceptable touch with vocal harmony, so the odds are already in Chloe’s favour on this point for a start.
Her first chords on the guitar were attention grabbers for a fan of alternative tunings, being edgy 4ths and 5ths rather than the usual run of gloomy jazz chords, and the cello underlined the moods elegantly.
As a singer she is radiant, being one of those people who draws the audience into the mood she creates. Hers is an intimate performance into which even aging cynics can relax. Her singing has an effortless wide range. Anybody who can sing at the top end of their range in a near whisper is a respectable performer and Chloe Hall uses the full width of the expressive spectrum – as I said – effortlessly.
Her poetry and writing have both complexity and almost ridiculous simplicity. “Fallen angel boy” is a chorus for the illiterate with a far more complex use of images in the verses.
Her recording reveals her as a talented multi-instrumentalist, but the complex simplicity of the North By Northwest performance was all this writer needed to develop a profound respect for Chloe Hall.
Here is no Joni Mitchell clone, but a mature, emotional and technically accomplished musician with a lot to say and all the resources to say it. Take any chance that’s on offer to hear her.
(4 stars) : “[Chloe Hall] is one of the leading voices from the Australian scene.” The Scotsman – Outside, 2009
Heart-on-the-sleeve poetics, songs about time’s passing and love’s mutability, yes it’s another young female guitar-toting singer-songwriter – but this time she’s one of the leading voices from the Australian scene. Hall handles piano too, crafts an individual line in catchy melody and has an expressive way with lyrics. Chugging cello leads the bass and percussion that is taking the former folkie to another level.
(5 stars) : “How much praise can you heap on one album?” Maverick Magazine (UK) – Outside, 2009
How much praise can you heap on one album?
Melbourne based Chloe Hall is one of those rare singer/songwriters who can make even the simplest of songs sound so beautiful and emotive. Chloe’s music is delicate yet extremely powerful. Listeners to this new album will literally want to dive in.
Chloe’s song writing talents marvel those of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Lucy Kaplansky. Her vocals remind me of Nanci Griffith at times and Lucy Kaplansky at others.
OUTSIDE is full of wonderful harmonies and gorgeous music. In Australia Chloe Hall is a household name amongst fans of contemporary/alternative folk and has been compared with the likes of Beth Orton, The Corrs and Dido. The album begins with title song Outside, engaging and beautiful. It highlights perfectly Chloe’s gentle musical style. I’m Still Here has a real folk sound to it, despite being modern in style, there is something strangely old-fashioned about it. I am reminded fleetingly of Mary Black. Dance With Me is a slow dreamy song sung with passionate vocals. Each song on the album is perfect in every way possible. The final song on the album is entitled Born In The Morning. This is an amazing song sung with great passion. The lyrics are very sentimental, a simple song that will bring a tear to the eye.
Overall this is a fantastic album brimming with possibility.
Joyously refreshing… [Chloe’s] outlook is both mature and yet vulnerable, worldly-wise but never world weary, emotional but not gushy… You only really need to listen to the first few tracks to begin to appreciate the strength of her songwriting” Blogcritics – Outside, 2009
If it was the New Year I would be making a New Year’s resolution. Okay, I usually blow these well intentioned promises within a couple of days or some in cases I have even had to make grovelling excuses after just a few minutes. However, this New Year’s resolution (made in October) is one that I shall do my damnedest to keep.
This year I will do my best to see Australia’s Chloe Hall in concert. However, having just visited her website I found her musical diary of her recent dates in nearby Paris. I quickly realize that once again I have probably blown it. In fact, she has just toured the U.K., Ireland, Canada and a host of other places, and guess what? Yes, I missed the lot. If only I had heard her new album Outside earlier.
Chloe is a busy lady taking her beautifully engaging, gentle, and poetic folk style through a diary crammed full of engagements. As a result the word is spreading and she has built up a worldwide fan-base as more and more people get tuned into her exceptional song-writing, charismatic nature, and delightful music.
There is a joyously refreshing honesty to her well written songs. Her outlook is both mature and yet vulnerable, worldly-wise but never world weary, emotional but not gushy. It is a fine balance that makes her music both engaging and intriguing. She has the ability to paint potent scenes within a few lines that are delivered with a gentle sensitivity.
Her last album White Street heralded something of a breakthrough. Now the highly talented Chloe has served up another treat with Outside, her latest release, a nicely presented collection of ten original songs that underline just why her music has been used on Australian television, and the soundtrack to the film The Caterpillar Wish.
You only really need to listen to the first few tracks to begin to appreciate the strength of her song writing. The album opens with the title track, a song that is guaranteed to get under the skin of any lovers of acoustic music. Her ability to create a scene within a few lines is also immediately apparent as the song gently unfolds.
There are occasional shades of Joni Mitchell, and I mean that as a high compliment, but even stronger elements of an inspired songstress in her own right.
“Shipwreck” has Chloe asking, “Are you the rose or the thorn? Are you the teacup or the storm? Are you the one worth waiting for? Are you the shipwreck or the shore?” The memorable “I’m Still Here”, a beautiful “Dance With Me”, and an infectious “It’s Not Too Late” all maintain the undoubted quality on offer.
Throughout Outside Chloe delves further into that golden seem of creativity and as a result the album is a consistent, nicely produced excursion through her music. Further highlights include the beautifully painted “Walking After Midnight”. Meanwhile, “Nothing Really Matters” would have done Woodstock proud and arrives with Beatlesque orchestration.
“I Won’t Let You Down” sums up exactly what Chloe has achieved here with a solidly impressive set, delivered with her now familiar vocal strength that leaves you wanting more. The wonderful “Born In The Morning” is music to watch the shapes in the clouds as you fly away to some sunny place.
If any of the above rings your bell then you really shouldn’t miss out on Chloe Hall. Please have a listen by visiting her official website.
Jeff Perkins, Blogcritics
Artist Profile: Beat Magazine
Artist Profile: Beat Magazine (Melbourne)
When did you start doing [what you’re doing]?
Petty theft? Well you’ve got to start early…
What’s your name then? Oh. And the name of your band…
I’m the Chloe Hall part of the Chloe Hall Trio. Christopher Mildren and Teal Bain-Roben think it’s far too nice a day to be in front of the computer…
And what do you do?
Mainly petty theft, a bit of haiku on the side… And sometimes the three of us play music, making noise (read: alternative folk music) with 3-part harmonies, guitar, bass and percussion.
When did you start doing that?
Petty theft? Well you’ve got to start early…
As for the music, I’ve been doing that for a long, long time too.
The trio’s relatively new though. We got together just over a year ago to launch my new album, Outside. We’ve only just come home after touring Canada and Europe for 4 months, and I can’t wait to play these songs for Australian audiences.
Do you think you’re good at doing that?
Without sounding like a total knob, yes! I really do.
Chris and Teal add so much to the sound. It’s a really uplifting and joyful experience – for us and for anyone getting into the shows.
If you weren’t doing that, what would you be doing?
Probably pharmaceutical sales. I mean, deep down, who doesn’t want to be a pharmaceutical sales rep?
What makes you happiest about what you’re doing?
The rider’s always good (especially when it includes my very own private Scandinavian masseuse – ah, the giddy excess of folk music!) but for me, in truth, it’s the connection with the audience. There are particularly good shows where you can feel the moment when the division between performers and audience dissolves and we all lift… It’s like we’re facing the same direction, sharing the experience. Putting it into words sounds flaky, but it’s exhilarating!
And what makes you unhappiest about what you’re doing?
Honestly? Money, admin and stress. It’s incredibly difficult to make this work financially, and there’s so much more admin than you’d think. There was more than a year of slog behind the organisation of the last 4 month tour. Calling overseas venues and promoters from a storage cupboard in my house in the middle of the night (so as not to wake sleeping housemates!), crazy hours… But when we finally hit the road, it was worth it.
What’s your proudest moment of doing what you do?
I can think of a few:
- Whenever we meet people after a show who are obviously buzzing – hearing their stories, when the songs have triggered memories.
- Playing with the boys – Chris and Teal are great musicians and fantastic people. I feel very lucky to have found them, and I’m really proud of the sound we’ve created.
- Representing Australian alternative folk music overseas. It’s a privilege to be a part of such a vibrant and living community of musicians. Folk music is alive and well in Australia – and I’m proud to be a part of it.
And your least proud?
Getting cranky with the lads after a fantastic show in Berlin. I was tired and sick and hungry… And I picked the wrong moment to bring us all down.
You live and learn.
When are you doing your thing next?
Thursday November 5 (Oaks Day) at the Toff is a very exciting date for the Chloe Hall Trio:
- We’re recording the night for our first live album – ‘The Chloe Hall Trio: Live at the Toff’
- It’s also the official Australian launch of Outside (finally!), as well as being a big ‘welcome home!’ show…
For now though, I think it’s time to go join the other two thirds of the trio out in the sunshine…
Johnny Blank, The Blank Slate
Johnny Blank, The Blank Slate
“[First song?]: I was about 3, looking out of the back seat of the car watching the moon through the passing overhead wires. “When the moon was shining brightly and the stars were in the sky”. Genius.”
Interview with the extremely talented folk singer, Chloe Hall.
In this interview I talk to independent folk singer, Chloe Hall about storytelling, folk music and the struggles faced by independent musicians. I’ve have been working with Chloe Hall recently to produce a weekly online show that follows the Chloe Hall Trio as they tour Canada and Europe. The main aim of the show is to encourage people to start supporting independent artists, who with little support from funding bodies or major labels, are trying to make a go of it. It’s time people like you, me and everyone else out there actually do something to keep original storytelling and music alive. So take the time to read this interview and watch Chloe perform live and if you like what you see, I strongly recommend you to go to www.chloehall.com.au, show your support for The Chloe Hall Trio by registering that you’ve listened to their music and help keep their dream alive.
What’s your story? (in 140 char. or less)
I’m an alternative folk singer-songwriter from Melbourne. I love making and sharing music, and I’m trying to work out a way to build a sustainable career.
How did you start out?
I’ve written songs as long as I can remember.
After high-school, I studied composition at the Con in Melbourne, where I realized I was not only a terrible opera singer, but I actually didn’t like 20th century music that much. I dropped out after 2 years and hit the folk festival circuit (with my first demo – on cassette)…
Can you remember the first song/story you ever wrote?
There might have been others, but the first song I remember was when I was about 3, looking out of the back seat of the car watching the moon through the passing overhead wires. “When the moon was shining brightly and the stars were in the sky”. Genius.
Tell us a bit about your new tour, ‘the 10,000 mission’ and the your online show, ‘Show on the Road’. What you are trying to achieve?
During this tour, we’re running 2 online campaigns.
“Chloe Hall is on a Mission” is about getting 10,000 people to hear the new album before the end of the tour (3½ months). They don’t have to buy it (although they can!), they can just go to the website, stream it, and register that they’ve heard it.
The way I see it, there are lots of people out there who will love the music, and particularly the new album, and it’s my job to find them.
I’m genuinely proud of this album, and I want to get it in front of as many people as possible – to give it the best chance that I can.
“Show on the Road” is a weekly web-based documentary of life on the road. It’s filmed by me and my trio on the road, the raw footage is uploaded… and the superstars at Agent Blank edit it and upload it each week.
It’s a fresh and exciting way of staying in touch with fans and giving a fly-on-the-wall experience of what life is like on the road.
What makes a good story?
For me, people make good stories. If there’s real emotion there, you can bet it was triggered by a decent story. If it’s boiled down, I think a good story is an access point into a shared, simple emotion. An offering, from the teller to the listener.
What’s your favourite story? (can be a film, book, myth etc)
I don’t have a tidy answer for this one. I’m probably most involved with the story I’ve most recently heard (and I’m always on the lookout for a good story!). I’m typing this from an alternative community in BC, Canada, where a group of American college friends bought land 35 years ago. They built the most extraordinary houses, reared chickens, pigs and cattle. Grew gardens and crops. Through summers and snowy, 40-degrees-below-winters. They led both independent and communal lives. Held legendary parties. Somehow, they’re still here – stronger than ever. All still friends. Continuing to build, play and work together. It’s inspiring. So, right now, it’s my favourite story.
How do you think technology is changing the way we tell stories?
This is probably not a popular answer, but I think technology is changing the methods and appearance of the way we tell stories. But the stories themselves aren’t that different. Storytelling has been the same (in different forms) since we first began communicating our shared experiences.
Whether we sing a song passed down orally through generations, write a story on paper, type a blog or stream a live art-piece live on the web, we’re still connecting with people through common experience.
I think technology is opening up channels for broader communication though – allowing us to reach more people, more easily.
Let’s talk about the difference between recording an album and performing live, how do you think the two processes change the way you tell your story?
I love them both, but recording and performing are very different.
For me, performing live is about a particular moment, with a particular group of people. We’re all a part of it. It only occurs once, and it’s a unique experience. It’s alive.
Recording is more like visual art. There’s so much preparation and refinement. It’s an exciting process – an intense exploration of the ideas and sounds, and often an amazing experience for the musicians and technicians involved. Once it’s finished, like a novel or a painting, it becomes a one-way communication with the listener/reader/viewer. It’s complete. It doesn’t change. It’s a moment captured.
How will ‘Show on the Road’ be distributed?
Each week, Show on the Road is being uploaded to my website, youtube and other web video channels.
What are the major hurdles to making a career from being a musician and trying to tell your stories?
The two big ones are self-belief and money.
There is an incredible amount of rejection in a musical career, so you need to have a strong belief in what you’re doing, have a thick skin, and have confidence and faith in the fact that there ARE people who will love what you’re doing, and be excited to be involved. So much of making a lasting career in music is finding a supportive community of like-minded people. On both sides of the stage/stereo.
And money? I think that’s self explanatory. Hard, hard work!
Tell us particularly about how/why folk music seems to be more about storytelling than other styles of music?
Folk music is, funnily enough, about ‘folk’. It’s by people, for people. It’s not driven by an industry, but it has a long, proud history of telling people’s stories. Remembering, sharing, sometimes protesting and resisting through music. It’s about communities and the strength of people working together. It’s real stories about real people and genuine emotions. It’s not just pop music played on acoustic instruments. It’s not always cool, but it’s timeless, classic and rich (but, you know, I might be a little bit biased!).
Is the tour/show self funded?
I didn’t intend for this tour to be self funded (I made what I thought were 3 very strong applications for government and industry funding), but it’s ended up being a completely self-funded project. It’s wiping me out, actually. I’ll come back from this tour in debt, with no real idea of how to get out of the financial hole that I’m putting myself in. But I’m too far down the track to stop now! And you never know, if we just keep going around that next bend…
Greatest fear in life?
Yeah right, that’s an easy question…
What is your idea of freedom?
Setting off in the morning on a push bike. That first pedal down, where you feel the momentum of the bike take over and the wind against your face. I never tire of that feeling.
Your greatest ambition?
This might sound a bit clichéd, but ultimately I want to be a happy, healthy, loving, loved, confident woman with a fantastic community of friends and musicians, making my living through music and songwriting. Living a rich and colourful life full of good company, good food, good music and adventure. True.
Your tips for spreading the word and getting online support for your projects?
I’m just learning about this. At this point, I’m in other people’s hands. Definitely using social networking sites (although I could do this a lot better I think)… It’s all quite new for me at the moment, but I’m hoping we develop some good strategies along the way.
Can you tell me the favourite song you’ve ever written and why you like it so much?
This changes all the time. At the moment it’s Shipwreck. It just feels so good to sing live – especially when the harmonies kick in!
It’s about being single… ‘Are you the rose or the thorn? Are you the teacup or the storm? Are you the one worth waiting for? Are you the shipwreck or the shore?…’ and I love seeing the single people in the audience (men and women) light up in recognition. It’s light, but there are seeds of truth in there… Ultimately though, it’s a very uplifting song.
Why are you drawn to storytelling?
For the way it breaks through and makes us feel. For the way it connects people. For the way it makes us think, and question, and laugh and look around. I love hearing stories and songs just as much as I enjoy writing and sharing them. It feels important to me. Part of our own strange human story.
If you had to live by a motto, what would it be?
I really don’t know, but I asked my (very helpful) band mates:
Teal said “Carpe PM”
Chris said “Look both ways before you cross the street”
Our host, Bob, said “Do what you like, like what you do”.
So you can see how easy that one is to answer!
Linda Utting, 24 Hours Toronto (Canada)
Linda Utting, 24 Hours Toronto (Canada)
“In Australia she’s already made a career on the folk festival and folk club circuit. Here in Canada, she says, it’s like starting fresh. ‘I can’t rely on my reputation – the music must stand on its own’.”
Aussie Folkie Discovers Canada
In August, Australian folksinger Chloe Hall and cellist James Hazelden flew into Seattle, picked up a touring van and headed to Vancouver — where they blew their entire accommodation budget on a cello. Since then, they’ve been staying with other musicians, at venues and camping their way from B.C. to Ontario.
This is Hall’s first touring venture (she’s staying three months) and she’s found it quite “humbling” — in a good way.
In Australia she’s already made a career on the folk festival and folk club circuit. Here in Canada, she says, it’s like starting fresh. “I can’t rely on my reputation — the music must stand on its own.”
Her love for Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen is a big reason why she came to Canada — after hearing their music she said, ‘I’ve gotta go there!’
Hall, 34, started on the folk circuit at age 17 as a solo act still “writing straight from the heart.”
She signed her first recording contract with Shock Records seven years ago. “White Street,” released in 2005, is “about home, identity and being comfortable in your own skin,” says Hall.
Her new album, yet untitled, will be about “change and travelling.”
Inspired by Canada, she’s planning to return next year on the back of a U.S./European tour. Then she’s headed on a two-week road trip down the Mississippi river and then to Nashville to mix the new unplugged album.
Hall and Hazelden perform songs from “White Street” and her new album on Monday at Hugh’s Room as part of “Discoveries” — a showcase for up-and-coming musicians. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $13 advance, $15 at the door. Visit www.chloehall.com.au for more information.
Peter North, Edmonton Journal (Canada)
Peter North, Edmonton Journal (Canada)
“Chloe Hall is an Australian on her way to Nashville, but today the singer-songwriter is enjoying her introduction to Canada. This road trip… builds on her well-crafted third album White Street.”
Singer switches her sights from the Southern Cross to northern lights
Chloe Hall is an Australian on her way to Nashville, but today the singer-songwriter is enjoying her introduction to Western Canada’s scenery.
As a teenager, she routinely romanticized about Canada as she listened to recordings by Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.
“The great thing is, everything is meeting my expectations,” laughs Hall, who has had the good fortune to nab some choice gigs in stunning settings in B.C.
After playing dates on the Gulf Islands, Hall landed in the beautifully restored Ashcroft Opera Hall, played a date in Prince George and backtracked for a show in Prince Rupert.
Travelling with a number of friends from Down Under on a journey dubbed the Southern Cross Tour, Hall pulls into Edmonton Friday to play the Blue Chair. This road trip, which will also take her to Eastern Canada, builds on her well-crafted third album White Street.
“Similarities between Canada and Australia include strong singer-songwriter and festival scenes. And we’re used to travelling long distances between shows,” laughed Hall, who entered the the coffee-house circuit in Melbourne 14 years ago.
Joining her on the road are cellist James Hazelden and fellow songwriters Emaline Delapaix and Anita George. “Early on, I was fortunate to get some direction and encouragement from established artists like Judy Small even though I was writing these rambling songs with no choruses.”
A few years later, she got the chance to turn out songs for television dramas, where her writing skills quickly sharpened. “Writing songs for television is very specific in terms of subject matter, tone and time,” says Hall, who has since built binding choruses into songs like Fall For You and Without You that are found on White Street.
Hall picked the right musician in Hazelden to work with in a duo context. “I love the cello and James’s playing can be mellow or melancholy. James comes from a rock band background and he can add an edge to songs or a get into double stops and add a more percussive sound.”
Hall’s tune How Many Roads seems to have hit a collective nerve with Canadian audiences.
Hall and friends will play three sets at the Blue Chair on Friday starting at 8 p.m. For ticket information, phone the cafe at 989-2861.
Mikelle Sasakamoose, Kamloops This Week (Canada)
Mikelle Sasakamoose, Kamloops This Week (Canada)
“Like in Canada, there are huge wide open spaces in Australia with not that many people, so you get a sense of that space in the music…”
Roots from Down Under
You might be Canadian if you’re not afraid of bears and you listen to lyrics.
Australian folk singer Chloe Hall said since she started a Western Canada tour, that’s what she’s noticed most. “We’re so careful about bears,” she said with a nervous giggle, noting fellow headliner and Aussie Anita George wants to get a bear bell.
Joining the two adventurous songbirds on tour is ex-pat Emaline Delapaix.
“There’s quite a difference in the type of folk music happening in Canada and what’s happening in Australia,” said Hall.
“That’s why we brought ourselves together, because we all represent very different aspects of that folk music movement.”
George is rootsy and blues-based, while Delapaix is a fusion artist bringing together elements of cabaret and jazz.
Stuck in the middle with them, Hall is straight down the line contemporary folk.
“I’m more of a singer-songwriter,” she said. “My focus is absolutely on the songs and they’re very lyric and melody driven.”
So it was to her delight, after performing a few warmup gigs around B.C. she discovered Canucks love lyrics. “[Canadian] audiences seem really attuned to lyrics, and I’ve been really touched actually with people coming up after shows asking me specifically about lines in songs… and I certainly don’t get that attention to detail in Australia,” said Hall.
Like the wildlife, she said she’s just starting to get a sense of what music north of the 49th parallel is like.
“I think there is an element of French and American music here,” she said, noting in Australia there is more of a world-music element.
“But, like in Canada, there are huge wide open spaces in Australia with not that many people, so you get a sense of that space in the music.”
Tonight at 8 p.m., the Aussies in B.C. will be at the Ashcroft Opera House.
All three women will perform separately and then together to showcase the different aspects of Australian folk music. During her set, Hall will be accompanied by cellist James Hazelden.
“The cello in folk music is an unusual combination,” noted Hall, who plays an Australian Maton guitar.
“But the thing I love about James is he doesn’t have a classical background and he’s actually in quite a well-known rock band in Australia, so he’s brought a lot of edge and energy to the music.”
Tickets are available at the door.
A buffet dinner is at 7 p.m. and costs $18.50, GST and gratuity not included.
For more information, visit www.chloehall.com.au, www.emalinedelapaix.com, www.anitageorge.com.au, www.ashcroftoperahouse.com or call 250-453-9009.
Teresa Mallam, Free Press Prince George (Canada)
Teresa Mallam, Free Press Prince George (Canada)
“From down under to up north, Melbourne-based singer songwriter Chloe Hall will bring her contemporary folk music stylings to Prince George this weekend. On her way to Prince Rupert Tuesday, Hall took a moment to pull over for a lunch break and an interview with the Free Press. The artist is on a cross-country promotional tour for her third album White Street, just released in Canada..”
Aussie singer has walked many roads
From down under to up north, Melbourne-based singer songwriter Chloe Hall will bring her contemporary folk music stylings to Prince George this weekend. The Australian musician renowned for her beautiful voice and unique song stylings will perform along with cellist James Hazeldon at Artspace above Books and Company on Sunday.
On her way to Prince Rupert Tuesday, Hall took a moment to pull over for a lunch break and an interview with the Free Press. The artist is on a cross-country promotional tour for her third album White Street, just released in Canada (it came out in Australia in 2006). Along with the title track, the new CD includes songs like Amy, Fallen Angel Boy, How Many Roads, Just the Way You Are and Without You – all penned by the singer.
“This is a CD release tour. The reason it was delayed coming here – I look on the cover and I can’t believe it says ‘recorded in 2005′- is because my mother died last year. So it was a very sad time for me and just naturally put off the release of the album.”
One of the songs, Fall For You, came out of Hall’s work with dementia patients.
“I used to work for the Alzheimers Society in Australia so I talked with a lot of people whose partners had dementia and it was interesting the similarities of their stories and how difficult it was to stay connected in order to care for them. They all had key parts of life, times to remember – the same as any relationship – like the early days of courtship. In the old days, that usually meant the dance hall and the music. So this song came out of that.”
White Street features Hall on vocals, piano and guitar with Anita Quayle on cello and other musicians playing violin, viola, 12 string guitar and percussion instruments. After hitting the stage at Artspace this weekend, Hall heads for Ashcroft, B.C.
“I’m going to play the opera house there, I think that’s so neat. We will be touring for three months in Canada, going to Vancouver Island and Alberta. Then we finish in Ontario. After that, we’re heading to Nashville where we’ll be mixing a new album, similar to the last one with acoustic instruments – I love the wood, natural sounds of acoustic instruments.”
Hall has played music all her life, from her early love of Irish folk music as a teenage troubadour, open mic nights in Melbourne to stages on the Australian folk circuit during the 90s. She studied voice and composition at the Conservatorium, Melbourne University and since then has built a career as a contemporary singer songwriter.
Music critics say she’s “built a reputation for her stunning voice, beautifully crafted songs and warm heartfelt performances.” She has performed in venues from pubs to folk clubs to major festivals and events.
“I think we [she and Hazelton] bring a unique energy to our shows. Some of our songs are very moving – but we’re always in the mood for fun. I’ll be playing one of two guitars and singing of course. Audiences seem to enjoy listening to us and have a genuine appreciation for the music.”
How do our Canadian audiences compare with Australian ones?
“It’s a little early to say,” she said, “because we’ve just started the tour here but so far, everyone has been really friendly and there is a real [music] culture and love of music here.”
Australian singer songwriter Chloe Hall and cellist James Hazeldon perform Sunday, August 19 at Artspace above Books and Company. Tickets $10.
Shane Worrell, Moreland Leader
Shane Worrell, Moreland Leader
“Hall is back from a three-month tour of Australia with a new enthusiasm for raw folk music.”
Folk singer returns to her acoustic roots
A Sunday afternoon at the Brunswick Hotel is an ideal setting to enjoy the emotive songs of acoustic-backed folk singer and songwriter Chloe Hall.
Hall is back from a three-month tour of Australia with a new enthusiasm for raw folk music.
After a 10-year career that saw her gradually head in an electronic direction, Hall’s 2005 release White Street was a return to her folk roots, a style she said was more reflective of who she was. “Folk music is about people and communities, about storytelling and shared experience and the more I learn, the more I want to discover,” she said.
Hall said her songs were honest reflections set to warm, gentle acoustic sounds, adding: “I only write songs when I feel something deeply. That’s probably why they can be intense at times, because that’s how I feel them.”
Hall will perform with cellist James Hazelden, who accompanied her on the national tour, as part of the Whole Gamut Acoustic Music Club from 3pm at Brunswick Hotel, 140 Sydney Rd.
Also playing on the day are Raelene Bruinsma and Three Piece Suit. White Street is available through One Tree Hill/Shock Records.
Charmaine Camilleri, Fairfax Community Newspapers
Charmaine Camilleri, Fairfax Community Newspapers
“[Chloe Hall] has one of the strongest new voices in contemporary Australian folk music. Her new album, White Street… highlihgts her best music yet.”
Music dream fulfilled
Singer-songwriter Chloe Hall always dreamed of making her mark in the music industry. Growing up influenced by 1960′s Irish folk music and cool Bob Dylan tunes, she scrambled lyrics together. “Musicians would have sessions in my parents’ barn in Ireland in the ’60′s” she recalls. “[My parents] fell in love with Irish folk music and it stayed with them when they moved to Australia.”
Nowadays, the self-managed artist has one of the strongest new voices in contemporary Australian folk music.
She hit the music scene in 2000 with a seven-track CD, White Sky, which earned her glowing reviews and a nomination for Best Unsigned Artiste at that year’s Music Industry Critics Awards in Adelaide. “I wanted to be a musician from as far as I can remember. I understood music and loved it from an early age,” the Northcote resident says.
Hall is set to entertain in an intimate acoustic performance at the Brunswick Music Festival.
Hall was always ambitious. She first strummed a guitar at 16 and soon scored gigs at open-mic nights at folk and acoustic venues across Melbourne. In her 20′s, she hit national and Melbourne folk festival circuits. And in 2002 she released a self-titled EP. In the middle of last year, Hall established the One Tree Hill record company to ensure “creative control” of her work. Her new album, White Street, in stores now, highlights her best music yet, says Hall, who admits facing rejections in her musical journey. “I feel fortunate… it’s a hard road, but it’s a beautiful one, too.”
There’s certainly no looking back at the realisation of her destiny. “It’s my life. It’s what I’m living and breathing for.”
Julia Irwin, Northcote Leader
Julia Irwin, Northcote Leader
“Writing music for film and television is Chloe Hall’s bread and butter but her first love is crafting and singing her own material”
Chloe’s sound is white and warm
Writing music for film and television is Chloe Hall’s bread and butter but her first love is crafting and singing her own material. The Northcote resident has just released her second album White Street, a follow up to White Sky. “White St in Reservoir is where my grandmother lived and White Sky was an electronic album and the title referred to the colour of the sky,” she said. The contemporary folk album features Hall’s warm vocals and guitar, Anita Quayle on cello, Louise McCarthy on violin, viola and backing vocals, Greg arnold on bass and James Richmond on percussion.
Hall said she had been a musician all her life, making up songs as a two-year-old and winning her first songwriting award at 14. “I work full-time as a musician, which is a tricky path,” she said. “I’ve had two songs selected for the upcoming Australian feature film Caterpillar Wish and contributed to five albums for the ABC show The Saddle Club and to Holly’s Heroes (Channel 9).”
Hall will sing and play songs from her new album at the Brunswick Music Festival on March 31 at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute on the corner of Glenlyon and Sydney roads before beginning a national tour with cellist James Hazelden to launch White Street.
The CD is available at record stores nationally. For more information and Hall’s tour dates go to www.chloehall.com.au
Warwick McFadyen, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald
Warwick McFadyen, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald
“What [Chloe] has done is create an album as warm as a summer’s night and as earthily woody as the deep roots of an oak… Hall writes with insight of the everyday life and the events and emotions that transcend their surroundings.”
Pretension stripped bare
A late night epiphany has transformed a marketing executive into a stylish product of her own, writes Warwick McFadyen.
THE child looking out from the CD cover has piercing, intelligent eyes. Her hair is windblown. She has the air of someone just about to tell a joke or say something profound. Flip the CD over and it’s the same person almost 30 years down the track. Her eyes still have that flame of life, but she’s wearing a broad smile. And so she should. The person is Chloe Hall and her album, White Street, has 11 good reasons to be happy. They’re her songs and, she says, they reflect who and what she is. “It’s the first album that feels really honest,” the Melbourne singer-songwriter says. “It represents what I’m doing.”
What she has done is create an album as warm as a summer’s night and as earthily woody as the deep roots of an oak. It may take people familiar with her earlier work by surprise.
Her debut White Sky in 2000 was praised, but the songs mutated from acoustic to electronica, which felt right at the time for her, but now seems wrong. Hall, 32, while not regretting the work, sees that album as “trying on some other things. Electronica seemed right at the time, and being someone else”. Since then she has discarded the electronics for the acoustic guitar and piano. Whereas she felt like someone else on Sky, on White Street she feels herself, and stays true to her craft. There is no mask. “The line between me as a person and me as a performer is pretty fine,” she says. “I don’t really have a stage persona.”
White Street is pretension stripped bare, though without the anxiety of then parading her soul in public. The songs, created on guitar and piano, are filled with the intimate sounds of the cello, violin, viola, bass and percussion. Hall writes with insight of the everyday life and the events and emotions that transcend their surroundings.
An Irish melancholy drifts through the songs, which is not surprising. Although she was born and raised in Melbourne, before that her parents had lived in Kenmare, County Kerry, an area of Ireland known for its beauty. She grew up surrounded by the music of the Chieftains, Planxty, Andy Irvine and Mary Black. When she went to Ireland as an adult “it felt so much as where I had come from. The first pub I went into a lot of the women looked like me”. She speaks of the “beautiful ache” of Irish music, which can stir her when she listens to it, especially the sound of the uilleann pipes. She also speaks admiringly of the voice of Dolores Burton, of the Cranberries.
A life in music, however, has not been a surety for Hall. First, there was the paralysed arm with which she was born, but which came good with treatment. Then, there was the money trap. Although she says music has been her passion, there was a time as an adult when she entered the corporate world thinking, “I could quickly get enough money together to do an album and put a website together”. To her consternation, she found she was actually good at what she was doing — media marketing — and began to climb the ladder of ambition. The music started to become a hobby rather than her life. Her epiphany came late one night working back to meet a deadline. She saw a businessman in a suit carrying a trophy of a businessman in a suit. She realised, “This is so far away from what I want to do”. With it came the thought that “everything I was doing somebody else could do, but with music I’m the only one who can do what I’m doing. And I do have something to say and something to offer”.
After high school Hall enrolled in music at the University of Melbourne, specifically to study composition, but that subject was in the course’s second year. To get there she had to study an instrument in her first year and she took on the voice — an operatic voice, no less. She freely admits she is the world’s worst opera singer, but she got through to the second year only to find that the composition course wasn’t what she was after. She dropped out and went on the folk circuit, where she found her real voice.
Her determination can also be measured in that she has set up her own record label, One Tree Hill Records, on which White Street was recorded. Shock Records handles the distribution. Shock also helped introduce Hall to writing as a discipline. It came in the unlikely form of the Saddle Club series. She has written songs for four Saddle Club albums, three of which have gone gold. It’s an exercise she takes seriously. “I feel really responsible about it because it’s for kids,” she says.”I wanted to make sure they were strong words that would make you feel good about yourself.”
Hall has enough material to record a new album, which she hopes to have completed this year. She also hopes to tour Canada after a national Australian tour. She knows that as a performer on the folk circuit, she is ploughing a very small field in a very small market. But “if I wanted to make money, I wouldn’t be doing music. As it is, I’m doing it because I love it”.
Chloe Hall performs at the Brunswick Music Festival on March 31. The festival runs from today until April 9. More than 80 artists from Australia and overseas will take part, including, from overseas Dick Gaughan, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Harry Manx and David Francey; and, from these shores, the Pigram Brothers, Dave Graney, the Band Who Knew Too Much, Fiona Boyes and Stephen Cummings. Full festival details: brunswickmusicfestival.com.au
Anthony Horan, Inpress
Anthony Horan, Inpress
“Chloe Hall’s debut White Sky is… resolutely independent, it’s loaded with strong, memorable songs and recorded with intelligence and insight”
Hall of Fame
Chloe Hall has managed to make an exciting record in a genre dominated by followers, Anthony Horan discovers.
It sometimes seems as though the world is saturated with singer-songwriter records, and it’s easy to be cynical about most of them. Every so often an artist will bring the full force of the personality in to the studio and craft a unique, groundbreaking record. And then three or four dozen others around the world will use it as a blueprint for their own musical efforts. Every vocal and arrangement nuance is carefully replicated, usually at the behest of a record company that wants a piece of the action and a public that wants more of the same. Attention-grabbing singer-songwriter outings are thin on the ground these days, and it’’ not entirely surprising that many of the best examples of the genre are found in the independent sector. Melbourne-based Chloe Hall’s debut White Sky is one such record – resolutely independent, it’s loaded with strong, memorable songs and recorded with intelligence and insight. It’ll hold strong appeal to those who like Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan, but it doesn’t particularly sound like either of them. Which is, of course, a good thing.
The woman behind the evocative, cinematic songs on White Sky is, as it turns out, a songwriter of some experience, though the warm, atmospheric electronics that permeate the record arrived much later.
“I started writing songs when I was about two or three years old,” Chloe reveals. “There are these really bad cassette recordings of me in the car, singing about the moon and the stars while we were driving through the country. I’ve always sung as a way of expressing myself – I don’t know what I’d do without it, actually. It’s gotten me through a lot of stuff.”
Having spent a few years playing the folk festival circuit, Chloe began to think some kind of new approach to her music was required. Hooking up with producer, engineer and musician Drew Stansbury, she started work on a solo record that would capture her songs inside more forceful band arrangements. Nothing surprising there, of course – it’s a natural path for a solo artist to take, bringing straightforward songs into a studio environment and expanding them. White Sky, though, would take nearly two years to complete.
“Initially we were making an indie-pop record – that raw sound, acoustic guitars, kick and snare and not much else,” Chloe explains. “that was cute. We’d pretty much done the whole record like that, and it sounded nice and sweet and everything. Then Peter Luscombe came in to play on White Sky and did this incredible drum track. We were about six or seven months in, and all the musicians had come in and done their stuff. Then Peter played on the track, and Michael Allen came in and did the throbbing bass-line on the song. And Drew and I looked at each other and realised we were going to have to start from scratch.”
Version two of White Sky made the extended effort more than worthwhile. Warm, richly textured and refreshingly devoid of cliché, its seven songs explore wildly different styles but are brought together by consistently strong melody and the unique sound world created in collaboration with US producer-engineer Jonathan Burnside. And yes, that’s the same Burnside who produced Grinspoon’s current album.
“He came to Australia because his children live here” explains Chloe. “He was just wandering around, getting a feel for Melbourne, when he walked past Eskimo Productions, where we were recording the album. And he just knocked on the door, believe it or not. He met Drew and they hit it off, and when Drew played him some of my stuff he really loved it and offered to help out. He came in for the week of mixdown, and that was it. Drew and I had been working together solidly for two years, and then Jonathan came in and did a lot of mixing. You need someone for a mixdown who has fresh ears – we were too close to it, and we needed a fresh approach. He helped tighten it up.”
With the record finished and out in the world, Chloe is perfectly fired up about the prospect of jumping right back in for more – she has, in fact, recorded three more songs for use on a possible wider release of White Sky. After two years of extreme patience, it seems the fire has been lit.
“It’s hard,” she says of the self-promotion process, “but it’s the most rewarding kind of work, because you really believe in what you’re putting out there. I can be absolutely exhausted from recording, but I still feel really satisfied. Just being noticed is nice – and what’s really lovely is that now I’m not getting a lot of people who don’t return calls, all that sort of stuff that I’ve had before. People are really excited about it. It’s been quite an expensive exercise, but I’d prefer to have my first album than, say, a deposit on a house…”
Chloe Hall plays next Wednesday 24th May at The Continental. White Sky is out now, and will be available at the show.