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Neil Halstead - Sleeping On Roads

  by Chris Jones

published: 12 / 2 / 2002

Neil Halstead - Sleeping On Roads
Label: 4AD
Format: CD


"Mellow" debut solo album with a surprising electronic element from Slowdive and Mojave 3 frontman, Neil Halstead

It was almost exactly one year ago that I had the opportunity to meet Neil Halstead in person. I talked with him for about an hour just before a Mojave 3 concert in San Francisco.  Most of the conversation dealt with the then new Mojave 3 album '"Excuses for Travellers') and touring the US, but we also talked about his musical past (Slowdive) and his musical future (a solo album he wasworking on).  he was very open talking about both topics and even put up with me asking a question I'm sure he's heard more than enough:  "Will you ever play any Slowdive songs again?" I was a bit surprised to hear that he was going to release a solo album, as he has clearly been the major force behind the past two Mojave 3 albums.  I asked how his solo material differed from Mojave 3 and he said that he wanted to include more of an electronic element to the music.  At the time I wasn't really sure if that sounded like a good thing or not.  Wwas he talking casio keyboards or programmed beats or techno noises or ????  The options whirling around in my head at the time all looked rather scary. Well, I'm glad to say that Neil Halstead did a superb job of adding in electronic elements to his music! '"Sleeping on Roads' is easily the early leader in my "albums of the year" list.  The first track, 'Seasons', showcases almost all of the elements that make this album so good.  The song has this perfect lazy quality to it. Something like that which American Analog Set and Movietone can pull off at times.  The song just ambles along with this lovely drone in the background that sounds like either an old keyboard or very soft guitar feedback.  Neil Halstead's warm voice - a voice that I'm sure will be compared to Nick Drake's by most reviewers - flows perfectly with the music and it's almost as if he's singing a lullaby.  And under all this are vibe like tones, cello (?), and some cool trumpet playing. The vocals on 'Two Stones in my Pocket' are run through some effect that makes them sound a bit like AM radio, but in a good way.  My favourite element in this song however is the low drone noise (possibly made by the trumpet) combined with an echoed drum hit. It's the kind of thing that Spiritualized has used so well in the past (think 'Lazer Guided Melodies' and 'Pure Phase').  Again, it gives the music this great mellow, somewhat spacey quality that works perfectly with Halstead's vocals. I would say that the spacey quality of this album is what makes it stand apart from the Mojave 3 albums which tend to have more of a country feel to them. Each song on this album has it's own little special sound due to the various instruments employed (keyboard, glockenspiel, dobro, cello, trumpet, and banjo).  While many of the sounds seem familiar and remind me of some of my favourite bands, they are brought together in a unique way that is clearly Halstead's.  It is his style and his voice that give a consistency, a feel, to the whole album.  It's a warm, lazy, spacey feel.  It's reflective, but not mired in the past.  It's looking towards the future, but care free. PS The last song Mojave 3 played the night I talked to Neil Halstead was Slowdive's 'Dagger'. And it sounded fantastic!!!

Track Listing:-
1 Seasons
2 Two Stones in My Pocket
3 Driving with Bert
4 Hi-Lo and In between
5 See You on Rooftops
6 Nartha's Mantra (For the Pain)
7 Sleeping on Roads
8 Dreamed I Saw Soldiers
9 High Hopes

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Interview (2009)
Neil Halstead - Interview
The frontman with both Slowdive and Mojave 3, Neil Halstead has recently released his second solo album, '‘Oh, Mighty Engine !' He speaks to Anthony Strutt about it and his work with both bands

live reviews

Musician, Leicester, 15/1/2014
Neil Halstead - Musician, Leicester, 15/1/2014
Anthony Strutt finds understated but powerful an evening of acoustic country/folk rock from Peter Bruntnell, Neil Halstead and Danny George Wilson on the first date of their Songwriters' Circle tour at The Musician in Leicester
Garage, London, 22/7/2010

digital downloads



Palindrome Hunches (2012)
Seductive lo-fi folk pop on third album from Slowdive and Mojave 3 front man, Neil Halstead
Oh Mighty Engine (2008)

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