Medicine 4 My Pain – Lynden David Hall (1997)

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“Medicine 4 my pain” is the debut album released by South London born Singer/Songwriter and Producer Lynden David Hall.

Hall (along with Omar) was the British answer to the American Neo Soul movement which was taking place at the same time. This particular album from Lynden David Hall is a real stand out and in my opinion was as good as anything released by his American counterparts.

Whilst Hall would release two subsequent excellent albums this debut lay the foundations of what type of artist he was and his untimely death in 2006 at the age of just 31 was a loss to British Music.

His voice was akin to that of D’Angelo and this album sees Hall talk mainly about love and relationships. He talks about love from a perspective of struggle and how trying to be with someone or simply maintaining the relationship he is in can be a difficult exercise.

The opening track “Do I Qualify” sees Hall quite critical of himself with a lack of self confidence being the driving theme lyrically. This track has a great groove and catchy hook as Hall tries to woo this lady who is with this man who he believes not to be worthy of her and is trying to tell her that he can be just as rude as him so does this help him qualify?

This is a superb track and I remember listening to this album in my university days and playing this track non stop. I loved the baseline, I loved the way the track was so laid back yet so catchy. The vocal is on point and this is a really wonderful song.

“Sexy Cinderella” is probably the biggest song Hall had in terms of commercial success and familiarity. Like the album’s opener is it a bass driven track with a smooth groove. Hall again is trying to make his move on a girl and is doing so in the smoothest way he can possibly do so.

The use of the word Cinderella is the essence of the track with Hall asking to meet her to kiss her as it is almost midnight. It’s sweet but extremely seductive at the same time.

“Crescent Moon” is just a soulful delight. A love song with Hall pouring it all out on this breezy low tempo funky track. I love the lyrics in this track as Hall turns the song from a standard love song to essentially his marriage proposal.

What Hall is able to do with his voice is make things sound sincere, sweet yet smooth and sexy at the same time. Very few soul singers have manged to tow this line over the years with Marvin Gaye being an obvious point of reference for a lot of contemporary soul/R&B singers.

The smooth sound continues with “There Goes My Sanity”. The production on track may be akin to the neo soul sound of the town but I detect a distinct Britishness to the whole atmosphere created. Hall like many R&B artists will take the dramatic link between love and madness and push this point in his lyrics. Like a number of tracks on this project Hall tries to make sense of relationships and his feelings of intense emotion that cripples him.

With his sanity being called into question the next track keeps on the theme of body reactions with “100 Heart Attacks”. The way he talks about the lady in this song is not flattering as he is basically saying that all she does is mess with men and he has first hand experience of this. He pities the fool that will love her as he will not love him back is the general mantra but whether this is true of this woman or just the case of Hall himself is unknown.

“Livin’ The Lie” musically is one of the best tracks on the album with the smooth bassline introducing the song with the drums and keyboards joining in. It is the bass that is the prominent feature on this song before the wonderful voice of Hall kicks in. The song is simple in it’s message which is that he can only try to live a good life and keep out of trouble despite the appeal of crime. He mentions that a life of crime is prophesied for him and that he is paranoid by racial prejudiced. His concerns about a future for his children weighs heavy on his mind.

“The Jimmy Lee Story” is a great track and one of my most played from this album over the years.  The song depicts the tale of a girl he knows called Jimmy Lee whose ambigous sexuality is the overriding factor to this girls personality but despite this Hall still loves her anyway. The song is similar tempo to many of the other tracks on the album which is probably where the album falls down a little with the tracks being quite similar in tone and style.

“Yellow In Blue” is one of those throwaway tracks that never really gets going with a need for a big chorus that never comes. The lyrics veer on the wrong side of sweet with a sickly niceness that is a bit off putting.

“I Wish I Knew” is much better with Hall asking questions again of his relationship and how badly he feels he has been treated. He talks about this a lot on this album which at times can be construed as moaning. He keeps asking the question directly to this woman to why she is treating him like this. She may call it love but he doesn’t see it this way at all.

“Jennifer Smiles” like “Yellow In Blue” is just a little too sweet for my liking. The production is a little stuff on this track due to what we have already heard. It is hard to distinguish between this and a few other tracks on set. The frail falsetto from Hall on the verses is both engaging and a little grating. The lyrics get a little lost in his vocal with the mixing on the track not being as slick as it needs to be.

The title track “Medicine 4 My Pain” is a stunning song. The emotion Hall delivers on this song really hits a nerve within me as I listen to this beautiful deliver from such a talented singer. The instrumentation is very simple with an acoustic guitar the main sound with some light backing keyboards, strings and drum machine coming into the track later on. This is Lynden David Hall at his best.

But if I thought that track was great then nothing beats “Do Angels Cry”. When Hall just sits there and sings over an acoustic guitar he is untouchable. This song is emotional and so very beautiful.

“I wonder is heaven there, will I be free to love whoever I care? Is it against the rules to love somebody to death?”

Knowing that Hall dies so young this song I cannot listen to without feeling a great deal of sadness. An extreme talent who would have surely dominated the UK R&B song moving forward.

A pure soul who bared it all in his music. Never afraid to be vulnerable and never required an overtly sexual message to put his views about relationships and the opposite sex forward.

 

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