Oakley Hall impressed me when I saw them in January 2005 at the Empty Bottle (opening for the Constantines), but their first album, which I purchased at the show that night, was a bit of a disappointment. A decent start for the group, but a little too lo-fi. The new Oakley Hall albumGypsum Strings is a marked improvement (I’ve yet to pick up the record the band released earlier in 2006, Second Guessing, but it’s now on my “must” list), and the band sounds even better in concert. I hear a lot of Fairport Convention and Richard and Linda Thompson in their music, mostly because vocalist Rachel Cox sings in that even-toned English folk style — and because the repeating chords have some of that dirge quality you hear in Fairport. It’s a fascinating variation of the music that guitarist/singer/keyboardist Pat Sullivan did when he was in Oneida. Oakley Hall takes those folk elements and then really cranks up the guitar riffs and oscillating keyboard chords. Sullivan’s just an OK vocalist, so it’s a good thing that the wonderful Cox is taking over more of the singing duties. SEE PHOTOS OF OAKLEY HALL AT METRO.
Oakley Hall’s set list: