New Album: STURDY BOOTS
STURDY BOOTS available now:
SANDS HALL sings about love. Whether it’s yearned-for, celebrated, crashed, lost, or regained, for her, love is a sturdy emotion—even when it encompasses those who’ve traveled, as she writes, “into a different kind of dawn.” Her new album, Sturdy Boots explores all this and more. Produced by JL Espada for Boneyard Records, Sturdy Boots features a marvelous roster of musicians, including Kit Bailey on percussion; Murray Campbell on oboe and violin; Gerry Pineda on upright bass; Maggie McKaig on guitar, accordion, and vocals; Randy McKean on reeds; and Luke Wilson on banjo, lap steel, and tenor guitar.
A veteran performer, with extensive theatre experience, and a skilled songwriter, Sands’ voice and guitar chops make it easy to reference Joni Mitchell, yet she has a style and a voice all of her own, and she twines all kinds of influences—folk, jazz, country, blues—into her songs. A published memoirist and novelist, Sands brings her delight in language to her lyrics, which, along with well-crafted melodies, weave a compelling web.
Listen to Rustler’s Moon
Sands’s music falls squarely in the Americana tradition, lacing elements of her folk roots with country, blues, and jazz. She recently released her first CD, Rustler’s Moon.
When she was fourteen, her father purchased for her, from a hard-up U.C. Berkeley grad student, a Martin 000-18, on which she wrote her first song, and this is the guitar she still mostly plays. A professor of creative writing, and author of a novel and numbers of short stories, Sands brings this delight in language to her lyrics. In addition, her extensive work as a theatre artist—she’s an actor, director, and playwright—gives her a stylish yet deeply honest performing presence
Sands performs solo or with musicians she delights in gathering. Recent concerts include a launch party for her own memoir (now in paperback), a speakeasy in upstate New York; an art gallery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; house concerts everywhere; and, in California, a ranch in Napa, a cafe in Sacramento, and at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City, where she lives (when she’s not back east, teaching). Sands also hosts an occasional “Songwriter Sunday,” which, in addition to an open mic and a featured songwriter, allows her to hone new tunes and play with a variety of stunning musicians. These include some of the musicians featured on her album—Randy McKean, Maggie McKaig, Luke Wilson, and Louis B. Jones—as well as other cherished musical comrades.
Isn’t it lovely when an album comes from nowhere and you just end up falling in love with the songs? Sands’ music has a deep roots-based vibe, Americana crossed with folk and blues, making for a very organic record. The album is just incredibly endearing and earthy and also passionate and uplifting, a gentle gliding record full of diversity. Think along the lines of, say, June Tabor, Joni Mitchell, and Loreena McKennit through to Alanis Morissette and even Carly Simon, with Sands’ Gospel-tinted ‘Light A Candle’. Sands Hall’s music is a delight, with every song telling a story.
Sands is a troubadour of the highest caliber and in the best sense of the tradition… her lyrics create a rarely-achieved visual context, with well-crafted melodies that are facilitated by skilled and creative guitar work. Sands’ beautiful voice and her strong yet unassuming stage presence, combined with her wonderful songs, give an audience the impression they are in witnessing Zen-like wisdom, but in a song.
In Rustler’s Moon, Sands has created a wonderful record that does true justice to her creative source.
The title track (‘Rustler’ Moon’) with its slightly Spanish guitar style playing, is a beautifully delicate number, and opens the album in some style with some sympathetic dobro playing from brother-in-law Louis B Jones. And ‘Leanin Into Loneliness’, which follows, is an equally engaging bluesy Vaya Con Dios style number. The album then heads off in a more avant guarde jazzy direction (with some) exquisite improvised saxophone playing by Randy McLean on ‘Chippewa Street’ and ‘The Stars Fell Down’… there’s no denying Rustler’s Moon is a supremely crafted album and well worth investigating
Given that most people have their musical influences at an early age, it’s no surprise that this folky, singer / songwriter,confessional album has the late sixties / Laurel Canyon embedded in its DNA. So that’s Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell then. Most of the music is delicate and acoustic… the best tracks… include the likes of ‘Leanin Into Loneliness’.