Daryl Hall ‘D’ Album Review

From the opening notes of the first cut, Daryl Hall proves he is still one of the finest vocalists in blue-eyed soul music.

To quote Daryl Hall in his own words, ‘pretty good” if anything understates this entire album; his evaluation is offered up at the end of the second cut, “Too Much Information”. He is in absolutely terrific form on “D“, this 2024 recording with solid production values and a collection of upbeat songs. Hard to believe he is presently 77 years old, so pitch-perfect and emotive in voice does this outing find him. The new album is his sixth solo record, and is a collaboration with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame. Together they composed seven of the nine songs on the record, including “Can’t Say No To You”, the first single from the sessions.

I’ve been a fan since he first burst on the scene with John Oates in the 1970s. Their patented Philadelphia-based “blue-eyed” soul sound emerged full blown with the classic track “She’s Gone”, and together they were responsible for twenty-nine Top Forty singles, six number 1 records, and seven platinum albums. Daryl was the lead vocalist while John provided guitar and backup. They outsold The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel. Their classic albums Abandoned Luncheonette, Bigger Than Both of Us, and Beauty On A Back Street remain as listenable today as when they were released in the 1970s. “Don’t Hold Back Your Love” and the cover of the Mel and Tim track “Starting All Over Again” from Change of Season, as well as the entirety of their covers album Our Kind of Soul are just a few of the many timeless tracks from later in their collaborative career.

Daryl Hall is no nostalgia act, however. With his influential YouTube show “Live From Daryl’s House” he has continued to be a major presence in music, honouring classic artists and introducing new talent with a boundless enthusiasm for multiple genres. His duets with his guests are legendary, his genuine interest in their careers displaying an innate modesty and a passion for embracing new sounds, new approaches. The recent revival of the show featured the appearances of Robert Fripp, Andy Grammer, Lisa Loeb and Howard Jones.

Though he no longer records or tours with John Oates due to contractual disagreements, Daryl’s solo career shows he has never lost his touch. The current album is a splendid example of his varied talents for performance, production and new collaborations, and is a significant departure from his previous solo album, Laughing Down Crying, which was released eleven years ago in 2013.

Daryl Hall and Dave Stewart are long-time friends, and they both have houses in the Bahamas, which is where the album was recorded over a period of 18 months. Daryl credits the relaxed feel of the record to the island vibe and the relaxed pace of recording. As for the album’s title, he allows that his friends call him “D”.

“This album is about getting to my core,” Hall said in an official release. The goal on D was to “break it down to the real thing, have fun, tropical reverie – and rekindle a musical relationship with a great friend.”

Hall and Stewart are both accomplished musicians and songwriters of a high order, and consequently played most of the instruments on the record. Their work is supplemented by various uncredited backup vocalists, while Darrell Freeman sent synthesizer parts from Atlanta. Longtime Hall & Oates saxophonist Charlie DeChant is featured on “Why Do You Want to Do That (To My Head)”.

The opening cut “The Whole World’s Better” echoes The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s “Getting Better”, with similar feel and apt crowd noises. “Can’t Say No To You” is straight-ahead sweet soul reminiscent of the Seventies, while “Rather Be A Fool” stemmed from Hall’s 2015 divorce from Armanda Aspinall; it’s a deeply moving song about the end of a relationship. Speaking of endings, “Say It Isn’t So” brings to mind the split between Daryl and John. Daryl calls this record as “a very personal one”, but is quick to credit the importance of Dave Stewart in the making of the album.

“Dave has been my shadow partner since 1984,” Hall told Variety magazine recently. “We’re best friends. This was a real duo album, two people coming together, understanding one another and writing songs — most of them were written on the spot. I had ideas and Dave enhanced them. It’s a real 50-50 project. Dave and I have a real partnership and have had for a long time.”

Daryl is currently on tour with Elvis Costello and is already planning a follow-up album to D, planned for release in 2025.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Vivascene, which he founded in 2010. A former record store owner, business executive and business writer, he is devoted to vinyl records, classical guitar, and b&w photography.

2 comments

  1. Daryl Hall is my all-time favorite singer/songwriter/musician, and I am quite D-lighted with D, his latest album; however, I am confident I am accurate in stating that throngs of fans would love to see Daryl and John get, ahem, back together again—for one last album. An album of new songs in the different styles they employed over the last half-century would certainly fill the bill. My suggestion for its title: Gamut Terminus

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