Neil Halstead – Palindrome Hunches

January 01, 1970

(Brushfire)

 

www.brushfirerecords.com

 

While on
indefinite hiatus from his full-time concern, Mojave 3 (who I really wish would
return) British surf-folkie Neil Halstead has been releasing solo records. This
is his third one and if you’ve heard the first 
two then Palindrome Hunches isn’t much of a departure. It’s gentle and wistful folk music that’s usually
played in most coffeehouses through our country (and his), but this is much
better than what you hear in your average coffee house (think Nick Drake or
Bert Jansch).

 

On this outing
Halstead is joined by no other members of Mojave 3 which is maybe a first for
him. Halstead has the acoustic guitar and vocals covered while he brings in a
violinist (Ben Smith), double bassist (Drew Milloy), pianist (Paul Whitty) as
well as other folks on glockenspiel, harmonium and banjo. The songs on Palindrome Hunches are certainly pretty
and play perfectly as background music for a variety of endeavors (washing
dishes, vacuuming, etc.) but not much on here really stands out and catches
your attention (especially with a back catalog as good as Mojave 3 has) and
while this is better than 2008’s Oh! Mighty
Engine
, it’s not as good as his terrific solo debut (2002’s Sleeping on Roads). Maybe if he had
slipped in a few upbeat, mid-tempo numbers it would have broken up the pace.
It’s not all a wash though as “Wittgenstein’s Arm” added some dramatic elements
and the violin on “Love is a Beast” speaks a language all its own and the title
track is simply gorgeous.

 

Halstead seems
to have settled into midlife quite comfortably, but the rest of us are wishing
it was a decade or so ago.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Wittgenstein’s Arm,” “Love is a
Beast,”  “Palindrome Hunches,” “Hey
Daydreamer” TIM HINELY

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