Top Ten Album Countdown
– Long After Dark is counting down the top ten albums of 2011 every Friday between December 2 and 30.
10) Laughing Down Crying – The first studio album from Daryl Hall in eight years, Laughing Down Crying is another excellent record in the veteran songwriter’s extensive catalog. With a handful of tracks like “Eyes For You (Ain’t No Doubt It)” and “Save Me” that recall Hall’s hit list, other songs point to a different direction in his songwriting. A prime example is Laughing Down Crying’s second track, “Talking to You (Is Like Talking to Myself).” While the lyrics are vintage Hall, the song itself veers towards lead guitar player Paul Pesco’s style.
Daryl Hall has been recording (either solo or with compatriot John Oates) since 1972. With the release of three consecutive albums to chart within the top five from 1981-1984, he cemented his reputation as one of pop music’s top songwriters. Even though he has withdrawn himself from music’s center stage in recent years, Hall has reinvented how an artist can remain popular in the latter stages of his career. With his landmark webcast, frequent touring, and work with younger artists, it is clear he still has the best of American pop music running through his veins. Hopefully, he’ll commit to writing more material, because as Laughing Down Crying proves, some people never lose the gift of creating music that makes the world dance.
9) How Do You Do – One in a string of successful neo-soul acts to pop up in the last couple of years, Mayer Hawthorne’s sophomore record How Do You Do gave lent a contemporary style to the familiar grooves of Motown. A marked improvement from 2009’s A Strange Arrangement, How Do You Do, seemed to have a better focus than his past work (as well as an appearance from the omnipresent Snoop Dogg).
How Do You Do’s single “The Walk” had the vibe of Cee Lo Green’s “F*** You,” except it was musically and lyrically creative. Two personal favorites were “A Long Time” and “No Strings,” both of which were strengthened by a strong beat that allude to Hawthorne’s days as a hip-hop DJ.
Like other newly-produced albums of its genre, How Do You Do frequently found its way to Long After Dark’s stereo over the last several months. Hawthorne, along with other acts like Fitz and the Tantrums, Raphael Saadiq, Diane Birch, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and Adele represent a style of fun, intelligent pop music.
In one of my favorite performances of the year, here are Hall, Hawthorne, and Booker T. Jones jamming on “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do):”