PopMatters Review: 8/10

On His Solo Debut, Nigel Hall Brings His Blend Of Authentic Soul And Undeniable Funk To The R&B Landscape With Rewarding Results

“Don’t change for me,” Nigel Hall insists on his song of the same name during the singer’s debut solo set, Ladies & Gentlemen … Nigel Hall. The phrase is harmonized over Adam Deitch’s creatively funky drums as part of a groove that ought to make enough Meters to complete a kilo smile. It’s one of the many moments throughout these 10 songs that make you wonder where Nigel Hall came from. Part retro-fitted R&B with pop tendencies, part groove-tastic soul cooking that that tastes authentic enough for Questlove to offer a co-sign, Ladies & Gentlemen is a must for anyone still waiting for something like a new Raphael Saadiq album (seriously: where’s that guy been?).

Opener “Gimme a Sign” is straight-forward enough to spark memories of the genre’s golden years, highlighted by a driving drum beat and a killer falsetto. “Two Sweet” is the 2015 version of an Erykah Badu slow jam sung by the opposite sex. “Try, Try, Try” is equally as funky as “Don’t Change For Me”, complete with a vocal part that’s as simple, abstract and repetitive as some of Sly Stone’s most memorable work. And then the Isley Brother cover “Lay Away”, featuring Quest on drums, slows down the original in ways that allow it to resonate all these years later.

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Relix Magazine Reviews Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall

Ladies & Gentlemen...Nigel Hall is a remarkable introduction for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that with this auspicious solo debut, longtime Soulive and Lettuce collaborator Nigel Hall emerges fully formed—a committed soul man, with the skills and chops to immediately qualify him as a legitimate R&B contender. It’s not enough that he possess the vocal chops and keyboard skills needed to meet the standard, but the fact that he’s so adept at such a vintage sound makes one wonder if he’s been hiding or hibernating for 40 years. Hall chooses his material carefully; apart from his astute originals, he sources the Isley Brothers, Benny Latimore and fusion funksters Stanley Clarke and Roy Ayers to supply his covers. Either way, he’s convincing, and on songs such as “Lay Away,” “Gimme a Sign” and “I Just Want to Love You,” he conveys such an infectious sound that it’s all but impossible not to be moved by his dynamic and drive. Even the oft-covered “I Can’t Stand the Rain” sounds spirited and inspired, courtesy of an unusually upbeat interpretation. Hall brings the prerequisite vitalityand a fresh enthusiasm to his stirring archetypical sound, delivering an  immediate appeal that’s both ageless and inviting.

OffBeat Magazine Review: Nigel Hall Feels At Home In New Orleans

Clearly, Nigel Hall feels right at home in New Orleans.

Celebrating the release of his debut solo album Ladies & Gentlemen … Nigel Hall (Feel Music/Round Hill) last night, as blustery winter winds and news of one more murderous rampage blew in, Hall’s soulful serenade warmed hearts inside Tipitina’s in a two-hour performance lifted on vibes of triumphant homecoming. Hall told the close-knit, convivial crowd—which still formed dozens deep in line outside four songs into his 10:15-start set, well past Quickie Mart’s opening salvo of rump-shake electronica kicking off school-night prompt at 9—that he wasn’t nervous, as was the case last month at a sold-out Blue Note in New York City for the first of three record-release shows (next: Denver on Dec. 19). Onstage last night, a pianoman in the house of Professor Longhair, he wasn’t nervous. “I’m just chilling with my homies,” Hall explained between songs.   

His homies: Eric Vogel (bass), Jamison Ross (drums), Robin Barnes and Vegas Cola (backing vocals), Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), Brad Walker (sax), Derwin “Big D” Perkins (guitar) and Bill Summers (percussion). Hall introduced Summers by declaring he had “the most cold-blooded resumé” before they launched into a jam that delicately teased “Watermelon Man” (nod to Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, the gold star on Summer’s resumé) then “Yes We Can Can” (nod to Allen Toussaint) for a few phrases before launching into the rousing “Lay Away,” an Isley Brothers cover appearing on Ladies & Gentlemen … Nigel Hall with contributions from Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and Ivan Neville. “Lay Away” is one of a sprinkling of covers on the album, a stirring 10 tracks of vintage soul music with jazz, gospel and funk flourishes that provided the material for the Tip’s show. Hall’s original “I Just Wanna Love You” early in the set introduced a heartfelt lovers theme for the newly married man. A cover of Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” set the crowd to spin cycle, hitting a fevered pitch while all-consuming horn blasts from Bloom and Walker propelled a blistering jam leading out of “Try, Try, Try”  (written by Roy Ayers).   

Thanking “the city of New Orleans for welcoming me into your family,” Hall (a D.C. native who later had to dismiss drunken banter from some dude in the front row calling him Neal, apparently) closed the set with “Never Gonna Let You Go,” showcasing his sweeping vocal range and prowess. This love theme carried over into the encore, with Hall, alone onstage, easing into soothing organ waves before ending the night with his “Baby, I Do Love You,” dedicated, of course, to his wife, front and center in the audience, his wails, words and key strokes bearing the soul of a musician writing and performing soul music in its finest form.