ROBERT HALE, “Pure & Simple,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.
Robert Hale’s bluegrass roots run deep. He was 9 years old when he began playing mandolin in his father, Clayton Hale’s bluegrass band.
Since then, he’s been lead singer for J.D. Crowe & the New South, worked with Eddie & Martha Adcock, been a member of both Livewire and Wildfire and done session work on two Dolly Parton albums.
Now, Hale has moved into a solo venture with “Pure & Simple.”
Bluegrass fans, however, will note that the album is neither pure nor simple.
It’s a mix of bluegrass and country with Hale playing electric guitar on some cuts and Chris Brown playing percussion.
And Hale grasses up or countryfies a couple of songs from other genres — Lynyrd Skynard’s “Pure & Simple” and Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.”
The label is marketing three tracks from the album to three separate markets — the title cut to Americana and country stations, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Did She Mention My Name” to bluegrass stations and Larry Cordle and Jim Rushing’s “Savior, Save Me From Myself” to bluegrass gospel programmers.
Hale wrote four tracks — “Gone Just The Same,” a ballad about a love that’s gone; “It Hasn’t Happened Yet,” a ballad that proclaims “a man can’t see no future/when he’s blinded by the past”; “You’re Wrong,” a classic country ballad; and “Dirt Poor,” a hard-charging instrumental.
Three of Hale’s old bandmates from Livewire — Scott Vestal, Wayne Benson and Ernie Sykes — join him on the album along with Steve Thomas, Randy Kohrs, Shawn Lane and Alecia Nugent. That’s a strong lineup.
It’s an album that makes you want to hear more from Hale. But bluegrass purists will probably prefer him to make the next one “pure and simple” bluegrass.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.PinecastleMusic.com.