I am always amazed and somewhat intrigued by how different Daryl Hall’s solo music sounds compared to his work with John Oates. Is the true Daryl Hall the consummate pop artist who is half of one of music's most commercially successful duos of all time, or is he the edgy rocker of his early solo days? His new album, Laughing Down Crying, places him somewhere in the middle.
Now in his mid-60s, Hall has traveled a long and largely successful musical journey, from scoring close to three-dozen hit singles with Oates – including six that reached Number One – to developing his own popular webcast, Live From Daryl’s House.
Laughing Down Crying, Hall's first solo effort since 2004’s Live In Philadelphia, reflects the many styles that have influenced and been a part of his career, as elements of rock, pop, soul, and even a little gospel combine to form a somewhat eclectic but ultimately satisfying album.
The title track gets it off to a good start as an acoustic approach and tight harmonies create a folk/rock vibe. “Talking To You (Is Like Talking To Myself)” is more uptempo and hook-laden in contrast, while “Message To You” sounds like it could have been plucked right out of the Hall & Oates catalogue.
There are also some twists and turns along the way. With some deep bass lines laying its foundation, “Eyes For You (Ain’t No Doubt About It)” allows Hall to explore a funk sound. “Get Out Of The Way” assumes more of a modernized approach as programmed drums and layers of guitars combine with impeccable production.
“Save Me” contains one of Hall's better vocals on the album, as the track is almost a straight gospel tune backed by a chorus. And yet despite the various production and musical directions throughout, the album’s best track is the simple acoustic-pop ballad, “Crash & Burn.”
Laughing Down Crying is a fine effort from the fertile mind of Daryl Hall. His voice is still a formidable instrument, one which allows him to roam over the musical landscape. Consider this one a worthwhile addition to any music collection.