"Any percussion you hear was recorded with my voice/mouth/body either by beatboxing, clapping, snapping, or stomping. I do use keyboard/ guitar for the "hybrid acapellas" on the album…
Hybrid Acapella is just something I made up so I could play an instrument every once in a while."
What this means is that the effects were done through countless overdubs. The majority of sounds are from him and him alone. I like the term he uses for songs like this: "hybrid acapella". And it works. Not every song is a hybrid, by the way. We'll get there.
Oh, and he also wrote all the songs. Yeah, I know – talent out the wazoo. Makes us struggling writers feel like hiding away and crying for a while. Probably while listening to this.
So, anyway, here's the album!
'Stronger Than You Know' What an opener! And not just for the incredible voice and vocalisations throughout this piece, but the positive, uplifting lyrics are incredible. "Some blows may knock you down/ Some cuts may scar your skin/ Get up and stand your ground/ Keep on pushing through it…" This is an amazing track and, straight away, this album is incredible.
'Best Of Me' Another track strong in the lyrics, with a more pronounced vocal percussive sound behind it. Slow verses, soaring chorus – you could imagine this being sung by an arena crowd. And it's a track like this with so many layers of sound that makes me wonder how he could perform live… but I would be interested to see it.
'More Love' This is where the piano makes its first appearance. I was not sure about the concept of hybrid acapella but it sounds great and it does help break up the album; further, it gives this song a different feel, which is actually good in the run-through of the album. And, yet again, this is lyrically so good. This has been an incredibly upbeat album to date.
'Unstoppable' I like the extra layers of body percussion added here, but the rest is voice. There is a more 'love song' feel about this track, giving it another different sound. But, yet again, the well-written lyrics are positive and the chorus soars.
'Stay' The keyboards and percussion are back for this one. This has a different feel to the rest of the songs, slightly more like some modern pop (though better sung). I can actually picture this track, if promoted right, hitting the zeitgeist of the modern listener. Despite that, I still think it is actually good.
'Stone Cold' The chorus saves this song. It starts off like just another song, but that chorus just hits nicely. Look, it is not a bad song, not at all, but when compared to the rest of the album, the verses just don't quite do it for me. But that chorus!... Yes.
'Rise Up' I thought this had another keyboard flourish, but the video shows him playing guitar, so my bad. And we finish with another positive, uplifting track, with yet another chorus that just soars. But, once again, it is the lyrics which really help elevate this song. " Born from the ashes of my fears/ I know the terror isn't real/ RISE UP…" Another track I can see being popular if marketed properly… or if kids today had any taste. Halley's voice is superb and his songs should be the sort that grab the attention of the public.
And there you are. It's only 7 tracks long, and I came away wanting more. I guess I'll have to wait for another release. While a part of me is hoping for an album of his cover versions, as featured on his YouTube channel, if he releases more original work of this standard, consider me a happy camper.