Liberty Hall Collective – Harmonica Sounds, album review

They advertised themselves to us as an unsigned pop-rock band, but they are so much more diverse than that!

This is one of those albums that grows on you the more you listen to it. So if you’re gonna listen to it, listen to it a few times through. 
It is pop rock, but it’s also pop punk, and in places it’s quite jingly, kind of like if The Cranberries were more poppy and had a male singer. So nothing like The Cranberries but you catch my drift. And then all of a sudden we’ve got a bunch of genre shifts going on. The 6th track on the album is written in… Spanish? I was never good at languages at school. Track number 10, Stars and Galaxies, is driven entirely by a proper string section. And The Ballad of Outlaw Jameson Boone has got a mental marching western thing going on. I’m not gonna lie, it made me giggle a little, it’s just so incongruous with the rest of the album, but I love it!
The first track tells the tale of girl Rebekah, and it tells it really well with brilliant lyrics: ‘She’s just following the trend, and sooner or later she’ll find out it’s not pretend.’ A perfect commentary on the life of a teenager.
The next couple of tracks don’t really catch on for me; they send a great message, but the conviction just doesn’t quite seem to be there. But after that it starts to get really good…
Track number 4 is a stroke of genius. They’ve got sound effects, people, sound effects! Car engines, phone calls, gossiping teens, and the lyric ‘don’t assume things, leave me alone!’ This is definitely the strongest track on the album so far, in terms of production and creativity. It’s got a great hook to it and some ace sounds. It’s very upbeat and colourful, and I’m digging it!
Track 5 has an insane guitar break! I was slightly shocked actually, it was loud. Cool bass line too. Actually, the whole album has got cool bass, hats off to the bass player! Unfortunately, the guitar solo doesn’t seem to have the same energy as the short breaks taking place throughout the song. But no worries, it soon picks up again. And as an added bonus, the singer’s voice somewhat resembles Paolo Nutini, which is quite nice. 
So two really great stand-out tracks here. I’m glad I stuck with it.
The best bit about A Ti is the percussion, but that’s all I really have to say about it. Other than this… What one earth is going on here?
Moving on…
Track 7, I Gave My Love a Bird, goes back to that pop-rock feel they started off with and I feel like I’m in safe hands again. It’s obviously where the guys in Liberty Hall Collective feel the most comfortable because this is where it gets good again. And I’m liking the passive aggressive lyrics! Come on guys, get angry, that’s what pop-rock is all about! But they don’t get angry, in fact it’s really quite ‘quaint’ as my incredibly British grandmother would say. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still a brilliant tune, and I can hear that as the song goes on, this guy starts to really feel it. And is there some mandolin in there too? I’m liking that.
Now then… Track 8, where do I start? Absolutely brilliant. Proper story-telling spoken word. And it opens with the coolest snare and bass duo. Seriously Mr. Bassist, you’re good.  This song has taken me to the wild west. It’s crazy man! You have to buy the album even if just to hear this track, it’s bloody fantastic. And the real punch coming through in the line: ‘they will never die’ is great. This is the conviction I was looking for! Great song, great song.
Until this next track, City Song, I hadn’t been particularly impressed by the guitar solos, but this one is by far the best on the album. Track 9 is another stand out for me. And I like the sexy guitar intro. There’s some piano in there, though I’m not sure it’s necessary. And then at the end we’ve got a bit of brass going on. Yes! This is definitely not pop-rock. And it’s ace. 
Then after that, in the next track we’ve got violins and cellos and stuff. This album is certainly taking a different direction to the one I was expecting…
Now, if the album had an anthem, it would be track number 11. I See You is my favourite track on the album. It’s produced really well, it’s written really well, it’s got a really lovely delicate piano part, and it’s just an all round great song. This should have been the first track, cause if it was I would have been this hooked from the beginning! I’ve gotta play this track on the podcast. It’s decided. I’m playing this track on the podcast.
And finally, to finish off, we circle back around again to the pop-rock stuff that we started off with, rounding off the album really quite nicely.
This record gets stronger and stronger as it goes on, and despite all the genre shifts it somehow manages to hold together well as a collective piece. It’s a little bit clumsy in places and it has its dips as any album would, but overall it’s got some fantastic and pretty inspiring stuff. Which is why I think it’s worth buying.
So if you think you might like the sound of it, head over to their bandcamp and get yourself a copy!
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