2. What About Us
3. Just Like A Pill
4. Glitter In The Air
Back in January Lena Hall began the Obsessed series with 6 songs from ‘Hedwig and the Angry Itch’ where she had won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Yitzhak. I had seen an article announcing the series, which included a clip of her performing a killer version of ‘The Origin Of Love.’ It was my first introduction to Lena, and I have played catch up on her solo catalog as well as her work in her old band- The Deafening.
I have looked forward to her new EP’s each month with the idea of the ‘Obsessed’ series being that each month she covers songs from a selected artist. Earlier EP’s have celebrated the likes of Elton John, Peter Gabriel, The Cranberries, and there have been rumors of some artists I am anticipating over the rest of 2018. Similar to The Cranberries and Peter Gabriel, I approached this EP unfamiliar with the artist being covered, other than of course knowing who she is. Like the other two, I come away from the EP enjoying 4 excellent songs.
Hall has stripped the songs down in terms of instrumentation with them all acoustic in nature with other instruments tastefully added to create one sonic delight after another. Starting this month’s music is the stirring ‘Sober,’ which allows Hall to sing with both tenderness and a raw power. Hall’s raw Rock voice is incredible, and she can really let some of it loose on a song like this where she can raise the hair on your arms from note to note. This song adds a powerful hook in the chorus and has become one of many favorite from the series. Remarkably, it pales in resonance somehow to the song that follows.
‘What About Us’ begins with some soft acoustic guitar and Hall singing magically over the top of it through the first verse. As the first chorus hits, the piano and bass enter the picture as Hall sings with a passionate intensity that burns. The song continues to build and the bridge after the second chorus is a showstopper moment. The majesty and heart that blew me away when I first heard her version of ‘The Origin Of Love’ comes to mind again here.
For the next two songs, there is a slight drag from the peak she just hit, which I think is really only natural due to the heights she just hit on the first two. ‘Just Like A Pill’ begins as a tender ballad with Hall utilizing a soft vocal that pulls the listener in close before delivering a killer chorus that begs for a sing along. The instrumentation is sparse with the acoustic guitar providing the frame for Hall to use to make the hair on the arms raise one time after another as she nails note after note.
‘Glitter In The Air’ brings this month to a close with a lighter feel than the previous three songs with Hall hitting some big notes without ever using her raw power technique. This song feels much more like what I would expect from one of her Broadway plays with her crystal clear voice bidding us farewell until next month.
If this is your introduction to Lena Hall, I highly recommend picking up this EP and then the following four months as quickly as possible. I am generally not a fan of albums of just cover songs, but this series has remained on repeat month after month due to the magic that Hall creates with her voice and how she has reinvented these songs month after month. If you have purchased the other months, this one should be a no brainer for you.
Website - lenahallobsessed.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/lenahallobsessed/
Review - Gerald Stansbury