James Hall & the Steady Wicked – All Horns and Halos!
James Hall and his band (one of several), the Steady Wicked, marked the release of their new album All Horns and Halos! with a lively show at the EARL on Nov. 22. If you didn’t make it, or forgot to pick up a copy, or spent all your money on beer, the 14-song collection is now available on CD or digital from Amazon, iTunes or the quintet’s Bandcamp page.
Sleekly produced with copious levels of swagger and drama, All Horns and Halos! smashes and smelts thick clumps of funk, soul, gospel and gaudy glam-rock into a rowdy full-on revival, on multiple levels. The penultimate number – seemingly the album’s most confessional track – “I Wish I’d Thought of That First” takes a long look into the mirror, and into a past where, inevitably, mistakes were made and people were hurt. But there’s ample confession throughout, and indeed, redemption. Thematically, you could string a few of the song titles together and come to a reasonable conclusion: “The Devil Beats His Wife,” “The Jesus Gonna See You Naked” (horns and halos, get it?), so let’s “Talk About the Good Things”: “Love Reigns Supreme” and “All We Got Is Each Other.” Hey, it works for me. But then, my favorite song on the album is probably “Bomb the Bridge,” with its spirit of “out with the old, in with the new.” Learn from the past, but don’t plant yourself there. Your future is yours to sculpt.
Boiling over with carnal bravado, Hall belts out the album’s words with passion and precision. He’s rarely sounded better, and more than that, he sounds like he’s really having fun. Heard on counter- and co-vocals across the whole affair, Jaz Jillette takes her turn in the spotlight on “Throwing Shadow.”
I’d be remiss if I signed off without letting you know that Hall’s early aughts group Pleasure Club is back in limited action, and will play a two-night stand at the EARL March 6 and 7. Presumably more Steady Wicked gigs are on the horizon as well.
James Hall & the Steady Wicked
All Horns and Halos!