In a similar vain to the kind of characters that you might discover on a classic Tom Waits album from the early 70s, ‘Last Night at the Ha-Ra’, the latest release from American songwriter Bill Magill, is a highly thought out collective of tales in which the revelations of a group of regulars of the Ha-Ra bar in sunny San Francisco share their innermost while exploring deep emotional themes such as how far one is willing to go for the woman they love, and even a heartfelt exploration of assisted suicide.
Now hailing in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France, the American born Magill, has assembled musicians from Britain, France, America and Australia to flesh out the reality of the narrative – each of them bringing something of their native influence to enhance the experience. As well as Magill’s core band at Vivid Stage Productions, a host of invited guests such as Pete Thomas – drummer for Elvis Costello and the Attractions and Daniel Mille – the award-winning French accordionist, have also contributed.
The record, in fact, has a distinctively French flair to it and as well as an un-satirised favouring of an accordion, it also features vocals in the language from his significant other. Nuance and diversity are real strengths of the recording, and little details such as authentic sounds of glasses being ‘cheers’d’, which were recorded at the actual venue, lie at the heart of its essence.
Take care not to moisten the carpet with spillage on this outing, as elbows will be in full sway as the core themes of this one tug at the heartstrings. We suggest that French lager be in full flow.