Klef Notes

Music Reviews

Bill Magill “Last Night at the Ha-Ra” – a Rock drama

Before I begin my interpretation of this dramatic collection of music, I wanted you to get a listen of the opening track “Daisy” so you can hear this highlighted form of music magic right at the beginning.

This opening track starts with vocalizations styled as if they were recorded live in a pub, then the introduction of that boisterous piano sits right down and in comes that velvet vocal of Magill and that hypnotic Gypsy-like music foundation.  

Now, I bet you are on your feet, swaying to a song about living your best life but instead of being in a bar, club, or arena, you are either in your living room or office or someplace else.  And seriously, when no one is looking, in your mind, you are planted at the best seat in the house – ha, ha.  So goes the talent of Magill – the ability to transport you from bland to extreme splendor by exciting the senses with storylines and lyrics that designs a theater in the mind with music to match. 

The way Bill Magill opens and closes his album is like you are seated in an open-air arena or theater experiencing a fully produced theatrical show.  

This is a review of his latest album “Last Night at the Ha-Ra” – a Rock drama which depicts the lives of everyday people at their local bar with 14 spellbinding tracks: 

  1. Daisy
  2. Sea of Dreams
  3. Strange
  4. Into the Falls
  5. How Hard
  6. Bullet Made of Gold
  7. I Can’t Wait
  8. Paralyzed
  9. Linger with Me
  10. How Hard (reprise)
  11. Mad
  12. Strange Souvenir
  13. She’s My Babe
  14. Ciao Ciao au Revior

I will place a spotlight on seven tracks, but please feel free to explore the entire collection. 

So are you ready to hear some varied Rock? 

Since we opened the review with the first track, let’s go on to the second track “Sea of Dreams” – an Alternative Rock feel-good song that is a bit Bluesy. 

Sea of Dreamscarefully cruises along as if you are sucked into the plush seats of a Cadillac ride.  The track that will start the show for me is very conversational with a clever, almost free-versed, treatment of the verses. 

Strange is a flawless example of art imitating life as it is very visual.  Magill mentioned that the character of the track is a man singing about his ordeal with Alzheimer’s as he lovingly asks his wife to help him when he reaches his end.  So, it is kind of surreal as this musical conversation seems to be taking place at the very minute you are listening to the track.  With four instruments taking their seats at the bar (guitars, accordion, subtle percussion, and violins) and lyrics that are practical and relatable, “Strange” would do well on the Adult Contemporary charts.  And if passion could ever be defined by music lines, thenInto the Fallsis that defining note. 

"Into the Falls" is a Soft Rock ballad that appeals to the heart featuring a female vocal dancing with Magill’s raspy vocal.  It is both romantic and storytelling.  The piano and violin playfully frolic with each other elegantly at the 53 seconds mark and builds layers overlapping each other that soon splits into anticipation by the 1:27 mark.  These musical layers moodily reintroduces the vocalists.  By writing music like “Into the Falls,” Magill easily brings the mystery of falling into seduction to life.  A stunning duet that personifies romance.

An affectionate piano starts off the seventh track “I Can’t Wait” making for a very inviting introduction – like a prelude.  And with lyrics that read like an entry into a person’s diary, Magill has composed a track that tips the scales when it comes to emotional delivery.  Here are some of this track’s passionate and reflective lyrics:  another night is ending but this ain't just another night, and I'm pretending things might turn out the way they might.  The queen of my dreams just kissed me goodnight tonight I can't wait to see her again.  This million-dollar evening, her million dollar smile, leaves me believing that I would drive a million miles, a billion or more, if they led me right to her door.  I can't wait to see her again.  

In addition, “I Can’t Wait” includes a beautiful dual violin interlude at the one minute / 49 seconds mark paralleling the principle piano melody and flooding the entire track with temperament.  If you are a romantic, this track will remind you of the reason you believe in love.  Wonderful placement of “I Can’t Wait” at its #7 slot making it the median to the 14 tracks lacing “Last Night at the Ha-Ra.”

And, the one thing that “lingers” with you after listening to “Linger with Me” is the cascading finger-picked lead guitar melody.  Not to mention the incorporation of the French spoken word making it a prime track for romantics.  This song builds as it moves on by starting mellow and then growing into an edgier Rock track.

Now when it comes to the basics of PURE Rock, in terms of tempo, instruments, and timing, two tracks almost tie. 

Running neck to neck with true Rock music formation is a track called “How Hard” and “Mad” – but we are going to focus on the eleventh song "Mad" as this one takes you into the stands of an arena and makes you pump your fist.  Its swift tempo and command to the beat makes it a tough as nails song.  Moreover, the treatment of selected Hard Rock instrumentation and vocal elements makes this arrangement the most heavily infused Modern Rock of the all the songs. 

The show’s finale comes in withCiao Ciao au Revior – a nice walk down memory lane that announces the album’s title and feature a hook that basically drives the melodic verses.

“Last Night at the Ha-Ra” places personality into Rock music and helps us to see that the real-life stories come first and then the music follows thus making the soundtracks that we live by.  After listening to the full album, I can say that Magill truly knows how to put to music encounters that often are hard to put into words.  Honestly, you can vividly see each person seated at their table conversing – these “regulars” telling and often retelling their story of that day or week or life, and then a spotlight being placed above that table and the drama being played out by way of lyrics and music.  It is extraordinary. 

And the way that each track is vocally executed is almost conversational and pure which follows the point of view that Magill set out to approach and display. 

Not since Rodgers and Hammerstein and Elton John have we been graced with dramatic music like this; and, I am so glad that Indie Music have Magill to reintroduce us to FEELING the music in such a balanced approach of both musical theater and Pop Culture. 

Based in Aix-en-Provence, Magill is quickly reaching the globe with this form of practical, yet vivid, music. 

With an ensemble of musicians from France, Britain, America, and Australia, Magill has built a collection of music that will last forever and be placed onto the big screen or stage.  Featuring the talents of Pete Thomas (drummer for Elvis Costello and the Attractions), Daniel Mille (award-winning French accordionist), Jon Fellowes (guitar), Rie Sinclair (Los Angeles-based recording artist), Mariachi Neuva Generacion (San Francisco), and Magill’s core band called The Vivid Stage (to highlight a few key players), this mesmeric assortment of music will recharge and reshape your “typical” way of viewing the norm in the same way that “The Greatest Showman”(2107) has recently illustrated a new way of seeing the “underdog” for audiences of motion picture. 

Enjoy the accompanying video below and make sure to keep up with Magill by visiting his social media platforms.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billmagillmusic/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bill.magill/

Website: https://billmagill.com/

 

 

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