Tommy Hale returns with a new album, ’ ‘Magnificent Bastard,released
on September 30, 2016 through Holiday Disaster Records.
Eight years on from his last LP, the Dallas-based singer-songwriter serves up nine
songs whose recording he describes as “emotionally difficult,” though the
resulting album is unarguably his most rewarding.
Recorded in Wiltshire, England, with his friends from acclaimed alt-country outfits The
Snakes and The Redlands Palomino Company, the record – Hale’s third as a solo artist –
draws on a wealth of musical styles, from gospel-tinged soul and country duetting to
delicate pop balladry and driving rock ’n’ roll, while at its centre sits its singer’s
unmistakable voice. Fragile and reflective one moment, bristling with soulful intensity the
next, it’s a unique ingredient of Hale’s music, and one that has aided his rise, over 20
years, from frontman with raucous cult rockers Swank Deluxe to multi-faceted solo
performer and respected face on the Dallas music scene.
‘Magnificent Bastard’ carries the weight of this history and more – from reminiscences of
a well-spent youth to sadness over an old high-school friend who ended up on Death Row
– and mixes the heartfelt with the playful to grand effect. It’s perhaps ironic that the first
album of Hale’s on which every song is co-written – with Simon Moor and John O’Sullivan
from The Snakes – is also the most representative of him as an artist.
“I think this is hands down the best collection of work I’ve ever put together,” says the
singer. “And a lot of that’s because of the talents of all those other guys.”
Don’t be fooled by that title. ‘Magnificent Bastard’ isn’t a boast; it’s a celebration of past
adventures, a purging of recent emotions and, in its closing track – a haunting take on Bill
Withers’ Hope She’ll Be Happier – an acceptance of the future. As its final note resonates
and decays, it feels as if the record drifts into thought.
For Tommy Hale, a man on the cusp of his third decade as a singer and songwriter, it’s the
perfect place to be.