Vienna D'Amato Hall - Long Stay Hotel - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Vienna D'Amato Hall - Long Stay Hotel

by Kevin Orton Rating:9 Release Date:2019-01-10
Vienna D'Amato Hall - Long Stay Hotel
Vienna D'Amato Hall - Long Stay Hotel

Vienna D’Amato Hall is a young Canadian-American singer-songwriter you may not have heard of. Yet. She has all the brooding intensity of Chelsea Wolf and PJ Harvey and the poetic sensibilities of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Her work is characterized by lush lyricism, obtuse tunings, and hypnotic fingerpicking. Unlike a lot of today’s female vocalists, Hall’s voice is remarkably devoid of affectation. Her approach is refreshingly uncontrived. Her tone, pure and direct. Not to mention, strikingly intimate.

‘Proud’ is slow burning, atmospheric opener to her latest effort, Long Stay Hotel. A song that draws you into Hall’s world as opposed to trying to blow you away. By contrast, ‘Gun’ is a stirring, unforgettable follow-up. Here, bowed bass and cello fuse together, sounding like a single instrument. Then, were hit with a wash of dark electric guitars. The kind of track that just takes your breath away on first listen.

“Bye bye jealousy”, Hall laments on the gorgeous, ‘Show Me America’. Vocally, Hall reminds me a bit of Bobbie Gentry at her most, ‘Mornin’ Glory’. She has the same candor and intimacy. It’s as if she’s singing just for you, laying out the secrets. The end result is not only seductive but addictive. None of which prepares you for ‘America’s’ soaring chorus. In a just world, this song should be a hit.

“Drove all the way to California just to watch it burn,” Hall confesses on ‘This Bar’, a world-weary number that reminds me of the late great Scottish folk singer, Jackie Leven. Hall even bends her notes like Leven. I suspect any resemblance is purely coincidental. I’d be surprised if Hall or anyone her age knows who the hell Leven is. But she can take the comparison as a compliment. There’s a song craft here that is a solid as a Stickley chair.

On the title track, ‘Long Stay Motel’, Hall brings it all down to a lone guitar before the strings kick in. A haunting soundtrack for anyone who’s ever been burned. But for my money, ‘Star’ is an album stand out. The kind of brooding, gothic tune Chelsea Wolf excels at. “I get around like a star”, Hall snarls sarcastically on the chorus.  Up next is, ‘Womanhattan’ a wry ballad that starts off spare but whose cello and eventual percussion take the song to unexpected places.  

Also, most unexpectedly, ‘Verbal Cigarettes’ finds D’Amato Hall in snarky, dark New Wave territory. Suddenly we’re greeted with frothy synths and fuzzy guitars. Quite a stylistic departure from the rest of the material and yet oddly, not jarring or out of place. Here D’ Amato Hall ah-ooo-es in an almost perverse echo of Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves of London’. ‘Cigarettes’ is a one-time only diversion however and ‘Avenue B’ has us in stately, more traditional ballad territory with heartbreak on the menu.

Hall saves the real siren songs, for the end. ‘Free’ is a gorgeous, soothing ballad, that gently rises to its climax. “What must be cannot be touched,” she laments. “I found God in the moment, yeah the impossible place to stay.” Then the song blasts off into the Dream Pop stratosphere.  If Long Stay Hotel is about the ups and downs of a troubled relationship, ‘Free’ is the letting go.

Our farewell is, ‘Surrender’ a lullaby which burns close with muted horns. “Surrender is what you need, surrender is me,” Hall beckons. And the listener cannot help but follow.

Long Stay Hotel isn’t Hall’s first effort, but without a doubt, it’s her finest to date. I am simply amazed she’s not more well known. A & R people should be lining up and chomping at the bit to sign this kind of talent. In the meantime, there's rare beauty and magic here. And like all beauty and magic, it’s not something you find every day. Sometimes you just luck out and stumble across it. Well, there’s plenty here if you need it. Check into Long Stay Hotel and you won’t want to leave.  

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