Jerry Hull is a blues/rock ‘n’ roll artist who grew up in the centre of the genre’s birthplace: Memphis. Although he now lives in England, Hull stays true to his roots in his latest album Made In Memphis. The fourteen-track work includes some great aspects, like some amazing piano solos and memorable lyrics. What is certain about this artist is that he has found his sound and is sticking to it. This could be taken as a safe move or one that is too formulaic.
Hull doesn’t have the flawless pop-style vocals you hear nowadays, instead his tone is conversational and imprecise. This is in no way a negative thing. For the genre of music it’s perfect, and he can hit high notes extremely accurately when he needs to as heard in She’s Coming Back. What was disappointing for me was that for the first half of the album Hull’s vocals were not in time with the music. Although he began on queue, it sounded like he rushed through phrases and ended up finishing too quickly. Now, this could have been a stylistic choice, with the rush through lyrics adding to the high intensity energy that his music undoubtedly has. By the last half of the album this had ceased, and for me personally it was more enjoyable than the first half.
Silver Wings had a piano duo. Yes you read that right, two pianos playing at the same time. This is something I haven’t heard in popular music, only in classical and jazz, and I loved it. However, I was immediately let down in the next track where the piano part sounded messy. I think it was just a case of overzealousness, something that happens to the best of performers when they get so far into the music they forget that it’s supposed to connect with an audience as well. Fugitive lived up to its namesake, including some great rhythms and employing a catchy chorus. It’s by this point that I started to notice something. The same instruments were being used for every song. Sometimes there was an instrument or two left out but it was always almost the exact same combination of instruments. What I would have liked to hear is a bit more variety. Possibly using the drum kit and guitar for one song, then adding the piano for another, and after that maybe stripping a song back to just vocals and one accompanying instrument. This could have added some much needed variety to the album.
The piano solo was amazing in Mexico Connection, and although I enjoyed the title track it started at ten and had nowhere to go. When you start a song at a lower energy level the only way you can go is up, which makes for a memorable tune. However, if you enjoy albums that have a high intensity 90% of the time, then this album is for you. I enjoyed the idea behind using sampling in Love Is Sung With A Grateful Heart and Creepy Crawly. Both the nature sounds and the classic horror movie audio were great was to create the desired sonic atmosphere. I thought there was a little too much cymbal in Two Doors Down (Prove Who I Am), and again I thought the instrumentation between this song, Oh My Gloria and Valentina were too similar. The very last track, Christmas Is Here, was slower and less complex instrumentally. It included some classic string sounds and sounded different but still within the realms of the genre.
Overall, I think the album still needs some work. To be honest, it sounded as though each instrument was recorded separately and then put together, rather than every musician getting together in the recording booth to play. Although it was only half of the album that sounded messy when it came to timing, it still affected my listening experience enough for it to bother me. I have to give Hull kudos though. Lyrically and vocally he has extraordinary talent. His voice may not be the precise and trained sort you hear these days, but it has an aura of Bowie in it. The fact that he is also a great storyteller means that when he does perfect the music side of things I believe he could be a force to be reckoned with.