US Christmas frontman Nate Hall has just released his first solo album—and it’s not what fans might expect. Filled with stripped down folk-rock, A Great River moves the metal man in an entirely different direction. The LP is moody and atmospheric, showcasing new nuances in Hall’s voice and sound.
River‘s ten tracks are dark and expansive, from instrumental “Night Theme” to a cappella “When the Stars Begin to Fall.” They’re the best kind of eerie, mixing electric and acoustic guitar so songs swirl and swell. Heavy reverb also adds to the LP’s haunting vibe, but it occasionally crosses into muddiness; Hall’s voice doesn’t need help expressing emotion. Indeed, the album is best when left to its own devices: “Chains” is sparse and lovely, “Kathleen” is soft and affecting. The matching set of instrumental offerings—“Night Theme” and “Electric Night Theme”—are deeply powerful, and highlight Hall’s excellent guitar-work. Though some stylistic production suits the album well, River is most successful when Hall’s skill is left to shine.
A Great River is a very commendable departure for Nate Hall, and fans new and old will be clamoring for more material. This album feels like it’s just the beginning for the metal man-turned-folkster.