Terry Lee Hale
"Celebration What For"
by Johanna J. Bodde

TERRY LEE HALE   "Celebration What For"
(Blue Rose Records)   www.terryleehale.com

That long-expected new studio-album by Terry Lee Hale. The photo of the crowd on the cover looks like a film that was suddenly stopped. "Celebration What For", a title that fits only Terry Lee, a sense of humor with cynical undertones and a little wink full of self-mockery. This CD is the obvious sequel to "The Blue Room", the theme is again the shattered relationship but pulled into a broader perspective, there's more distance now. The lyrics are not so detailed anymore but a bit more abstract, meditations of a man who still wants to chase away a few old demons before he really can go on with his life. The album is recorded in Zagreb with Croatian musicians and co-producers, among whom Dalibor Pavicic (The Bambi Molesters). Terry Lee plays guitars and dobro in "open tuning" like he's used to, he even makes a debut on the banjo! The arrangements are sparse and effective: drums and percussion, upright bass, here and there a little accentuation with trumpet or choir of girl's voices. The atmosphere is bluesy, a thunderstorm moves in closer, sometimes you hear the rain and the wind already. Everything just revolves around vocal and lyrics here. We knew opening track "Take Away" from Hardpan Live. "Fire Exit", typical example of Terry Lee's humor, was written for the wedding of Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) and his Slovenian wife Anda. "Blues Walk", with Blind Doctor Alain LeCloirec on electric guitar, was supposed to follow "Postscript", last song on "The Blue Room", try to glue them together with the burner! "The Main Thing" - in the third person - remains the highlight for me, a song by a genius, as that's what it's all about in a relationship crashing down: "You took tomorrow". And considering that Terry Lee is going to surpass this masterpiece again in the future...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, Dutch original of this review previously published on Real Roots Cafe, The Netherlands

Photo Copyright by 
Jeroen Hansen
(Glitterhouse Records)   www.terryleehale.com

If you hold something in your hands, being released on the Glitterhouse label and then for mailorder only, you know for sure that it's going to be a special listening experience. It is however a disadvantage that these albums get less airplay and not everybody orders easily a CD by mailorder in Germany.
Terry Lee Hale selected sixteen tracks, resulting in: A Selection of Live/Solo Performances 1993-2000. The sound quality is excellent, the recordings were made in Germany, France and Slovenia, the two "oldest" songs are even from a radiostation in Seattle. Terry Lee plays his various guitars and the famous dobro with the virtuosity we got used to, listening to him.
Songs from all his albums are passing by, a few are not much different from the original studio-recording, other songs are quite surprising in the stripped down version. Yes, there are even on this CD some tracks that were never recorded before, like the agitated, superquick "Highway 99" (which really exists by the way). Terry Lee' s wonderful instrumentals "Bluebonnets" and "Was a Friend" are not forgotten. The whole thing sounds simply like one of his not to be missed concerts! Terry Lee likes the fine looking digipacks, a special compliment goes out to professional photographer Franck Betermin (one of the Blind Doctors) for the really beautiful coverphoto.
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, translated by Yvonne Bohm. Dutch original of this review previously published on Real Roots Cafe, The Netherlands.