Neil Halstead Live In Studio

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For one man and his guitar, Neil Halstead can make a big sound. That observation was one of the greatest takeaways from the British-native, singer-songwriter’s visit to the WERS studio this afternoon for Live Music Week. His presence in the studio seems to be reflective of his musical style, unassuming and introspective, yet underlyingly brilliant and deep.

His new record, Palindrome Hunches, holds true to the form he set with his first two solo projects (Oh! Mighty Engine and Sleeping On Roads) yet, at the same time, feels distinctly different from his previous work that has pushed through multiple genres including shoegazer, cosmic, and folky-acoustic. Regarding the transition in style, he remarked that “it’s quite a darker record than the last one …. it’s more about time and relationships,” lacking the “whimsy” of Oh! Mighty Engine, he said that the shift stemmed from his own personal experiences, “I guess it’s where I am in my life,” he stated, “I’m older, so it reflects a little bit of my journey.”

Kicking off his set he played through the first track from Palindrome’s, the melodic and beautiful “Digging Shelters”, before moving swiftly into the most evidently dark and at some points even atonal song on the record, “Tied to You.” To finish things off, he did a throwback to his days in Mojave 3 (the band is currently on hiatus) with “Who Do You Love.”

For a musician who has had the opportunity to transcend so many genres, work as an active member of various bands, and create such a prolific and diverse repertoire, Halstead’s ability to develop and master his own personal style has been impressive to watch. Listening to him play, its easy to understand why he was hailed as “one of Britain’s most respectable songwriters” by Allmusic. With the release of his album and the start to his countrywide tour, he doesn’t seem to be as phased the excitement, when asked if there have been any moments of note so far on the trip, he laughed and replied, “Not yet, no, we’re just trying to keep it together at this point.”

Based on his musical range, it’s difficult to predict where Halstead will go next, but it’s clear that the journey will be exciting to watch. Keep track of his tour dates and be sure to settle into cold weather with the soft, comforting tunes from Palindrome Hunches, out now.

By Anna Thorup
Photo by Stevie Dunbar

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