Review Archive

‘Fields’ by Rob McHale - says things that need to be said

(December 12, 2014)

Music of a hundred years ago, from yesterday or today - whenever you place them the songs of Rob McHale should be taughtRob McHale album Fieldsin school, because they reflect vibrant history, the value of tradition and living social comment. This North Carolina-based poet, musician and composer writes folk Americana songs that walk you through their narratives in an entirely involving way. They bring home the wealth of heritage and place it firmly in the present, they observe the days we live in and offer valuable meaning.

Throughout his album ‘Fields’ gentle reflective lyrics move with an assured confidence to tell their tales. Softly engaging melodies surround the words with a captivating web. While mellow, richly textured vocals carry their significance. The overall impression is ‘music to listen to and lyrics to absorb’, the messages in ‘Fields’ are so timeless that listening without focus is wholly wrong, do them justice and take time to really listen – the rewards will come in shovel loads.

Each song engages with its own tale, the affecting plea of ‘Surrounded Again (General Custer)’ takes a rare perspective on its well-known story, ‘Back Home’ lays out a homage to those special places we all have, and ‘Irons and Chains (Dredd Scott)’ exposes the futility felt by enslaved individuals. McHale’s ability to reveal underexplored facets of the past comes through such songs as ‘The Castlebar Races’ and ‘Fire and the Guns’, and through ‘Fast Movin’ Train’ and ‘Wishing Well’resides his understanding of the life of the common man.

‘Fields’ simply says things that need to be said, remembered and repeated to each generation.

Reviewer: Tom Franks

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