One of the disappointing things about the various UK festival line ups this year is that no-one has offered Halle Kearns a chance to make her debut here. One of our favourite Lockdown finds has now amassed enough material to easily justify the trip. If any further justification were needed then her next two releases should amply provide the evidence.
The first "God Only Knows", is not a cover of the Beach Boys classic but instead finds Halle pondering on when the right one will come along. In an age where young people are forever pressured into making bad choices this comes as a refreshing alternate take
"I heard that cowboys and angels
are a match made in heaven
So how come I still haven't found my happy ending?"
It finds Halle making the point
"I've learned that patience is important - that you're not supposed to force it
Cos out of the blue, love finds you, when you least expect it."
Her outstanding questions though are what forms the basis of the upbeat chorus
"God only knows why you ain't mine yet - maybe he's waiting on perfect timing
Are you down the road? Are you out of State? Are you still one heartbreak away?
And I know there's a little magic in not knowing what's going to happen
But I can't wait to see the day when we both know - what God only knows!""
Soundwise this absolutely retains Halle's aesthetic that she has kept from the start, no matter how developed the sound becomes, and "God Only Knows" even has strings of some sort on it, the acoustic origins of the song are allowed to shine through and on this song both the original guitar and mandolin are still very much to the fore.
"Shoes To Fill" originally appeard on Halle's "Finally" EP - it was a list of things incidents in her life and her father's reaction to them leading to the conclusion that the man who eventually wins her heart would have to be able to fill shoehiss. The second verse then went on to detail a relationship that had broken down.
With the passing of time that second verse has now been rewritten - the song has been "Resoled" (sic) and now focuses completely on the father / daughter relationship reinforcing the standards that will need to be met
"It's been 4 years since I left my home State
But he's still my first call, when I need to talk through my day
He's paid some bills I wasn't making
Held my heart when it was breaking"
It's a touching relationship and a bond that will always remain unbroken - As Halle puts it
I know he's been trying to let me grow up - but I'll always be that little girl he loved"
Some artists mistakenly feel that more is more, Halle has headed off in the opposite direction showing that in fact less is more - the message is allowed to come to the fore precisely because the sound is so stripped back. There is an acoustic guitar and little flourishes of electric guitar and piano along with a small bit of percussion but undoubtedly the star remains Halle.
It all goes to make the song a more complete offering and combined with "God Only Knows" a nice double release.