Ben Cooley Hall

Ben Cooley Hall

 Providence, Rhode Island, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

Ben Cooley Hall's music, sometimes sparsely arranged and occasionally lush, distills real life into catchy, melodic capsules that are refreshingly unpretentious. He gives his listeners the benefit of his trust and honesty while keeping an appealing sense of lightness and humor.

Band Press

NeuFutur Magazine – James McQuiston

“Dream excerpt no. 1” is a track that is eclectic in its sound, blending together indie music with folk and even alt-country. There is little in the way of instrumental adornment to be had with the track, but Hall’s vocals take a strong step forward in the creation of an impressive first glance. “Sunny Day” brings in a little bit more to the instrumental side of things, and listeners will be able to discern a little bit of Beatles influence peppering the song.

“After The Fall” has a more somber sound to it than “Sunny Day”, but shows listeners a more contemplative side to Hall. The inclusion of a harmonica during the track further adds to the “anything that can” attitude that is present on “Owning Up To A Life”. With this, listeners will have no clue where Hall is going to go on tracks like “Come To Care”. “Later tracks on the disc, such as “Compromise”, continue this trend. The wide-open sound of the track gives homage to a number of different artists and bands, but it is ultimately Hall’s own unique sound that shines through the brightest. “Dependable Downer” is one of “Owning Up To A Life”’s most memorable tracks, as it ties together sixties and seventies rock with alternative rock into a package that will have listeners singing along well after the track (and even the CD) ends.

While most of popular music consists of bands trying to ape the sound of their musical predecessors, the bold new path forged by Ben Cooley Hall on “Owning Up To A Life” is something that will cause fans of any musical taste or genre to stand up and take notice. The studio side of Hall captured on “Owning Up To A Life” is one that cannot be missed, but for full appreciation of the artist, I would strongly suggest to keep an eye out for when Hall takes his act out on the road. Buy this CD from the site listed today.

Top Tracks: Dependable Downer, Sunny Day

Rating: 8.3/10

Ben Cooley Hall – Owning Up To A Life / 2009 Caunounicus / 11 Tracks / www.bencooleyhall.com

The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange – Mark S. Tucker

Were the Partridge Family to suddenly plunge into a depressoid bender, they'd be Ben Cooley Hall. This guy used to head up the Mary Reillys but veered off to cut his own gig, and Owning Up to a Life is a simultaneously startling and humorous disc of Our Town paradoxes and frustrations delivered in a pop vein vaguely Jules Shear-ish (as though Shear, too, were tired of living), balancing between folk, pop, and MOR…but with a very pronounced difference, as though Sartre were Dr. Phil harboring a secret folk Goth fetish.

Hall presents his songs with a combination of the serious and ironic yielding a rare satiric vein on multiple levels. You have to listen closely to what he's doing because every atom of each song is inextricably woven into the effect of the whole. Were this CD not so stealthily subversive, dwelling in a chameleonic skin of seeming normalcy, it'd be 'weird folk', but even that would be too easy a space for a musician who seems to value multiply operating alienations.

Save for a few axes, mainly horns (bagpipes, trumpet, etc.), Hall plays and sings everything. The pace is slow, his voice laconic and occasionally faltering, the instruments rustic and lazy, but, combined with the lyrics, they suddenly fall into grinning, nail-biting, sweating, paranoid life, albeit one of wondering lassitude. Despite the release's frequently quiet hilarity, there's really a very existential honesty at work here, and I doubt anyone is going to be able to find similar examples very easily at all. Give Owning Up to a Life the undivided attention it deserves, and you'll find an artwork of highly unusual and self-effacing but invasive merits. Don't worry about getting bogged in the worrisome subject matter, though, as the wry halo hanging over it all makes for idiosyncratic humor you just can't help chuckling over.

babysue – babysue: LMNOP Reviews from dONW7

Nice, smart, simple, straightforward melodic pop with exceptional melodies. Ben Cooley Hall is a one man band who writes and records music in the same general vein as modern pop artists like The Miniature Tigers (although more subdued and a bit less obvious). The tunes are happy and upbeat...but never overtly positive or sugary. Hall is not a newcomer to the world of music...he began by playing violin in grade school. In the 1990s he joined the Bozeman, Montana band Birdbody Hank before going solo. Owning Up To A Life is a nice smooth spin...a surprisingly personal and reflective sounding batch of tunes presented by a man who obviously knows what he's doing. Some of the melodies on this album are absolutely lovely and real ("You'll Come to Care" rates right up there with some of Jonathan Richman's best songs). Smart, sincere tracks include "Sunny Day," "Gingle Ale," and "Untrue." A very nice album from start to finish. (Rating: 5+)

Jersey Beat – Jersey Beat

A perfectly pleasant piece of sweetly harmonic music done with a spot on mix of thoughtfulness and maturity, this album makes the grade with flying colors. Ben Cooley Hall’s warm, soothing voice and smartly reflective songwriting make for a formidable double whammy. The spare and uncluttered arrangements keep things simply and sonorous throughout while blending elements of folk, pop, country, and rock into a tasty and tuneful sonic brew. Moreover, there’s a welcome sense of pleasingly positive thinking evident throughout that’s both refreshing and appealing in comparable measure. An excellent and impressive debut solo album.

Americana UK – Americana UK

Ben Cooley Hall “Owning Up To A Life” (Caunounicus Records, 2009)

you can take a bus or a car

Most albums follow a set routine; ten or a dozen tracks, if you are lucky a couple may be good, if you are really lucky none will be awful but most will be forgettable and predictable. On “Owning Up To A Life” his debut solo album, Ben Cooley Hall manages to create an album of strong individual tracks punctuated by three “dream excerpts” that hold together as a single cohesive piece.

His musical style varies throughout; “Ginger Ale” (following on from the second dream excerpt) has a beautiful country fiddle to match his beautiful words (“won’t you be my ginger ale/won’t you be my whole world”) whereas “Dependable Downer” sounds like it should be a mainstay of college radio and “Sunny Day” is breezy, piano led and reminiscent of Randy Newman.

It is unlikely that Ben Cooley Hall will be winning any prizes for best vocal performance at any awards show any time soon (“After The Fall” and “You’ll Come To Care” seem particularly strained) but it is a voice of warmth and honesty and it delivers a magnificent album.

Date review added:  Sunday, February 21, 2010?Reviewer:  John Hawes?
Reviewers Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Indie Music Stop – Indie Music Stop

In a week of writer’s block, book editing hell, and other things that had to be done, one of the best ways for me to be able to unravel from it all was Ben Cooley Hall’s Owning Up to a Life.
It’s a mellow sound, yes, but it has a modern twist. Cooley Hall’s music is reflective of Woodstock, but he adds his own unique flavor. A former member of the Boston-based trio, The Mary Reillys, Cooley Riley has branched out to a solo career to display his abilities as both artist and musician.
The messages on this album come through clearly: be yourself, do your own thing, and don’t care what anyone else thinks.
A few of the songs, such as “Dream Excerpt No. 2,” “Ginger Ale,” and “Sunny Day” mix up some musical genres, making the overall album even more fascinating.

Rating: 3.5/5?
By L. Anne Carrington 8/1/09

Penny Black Music UK – Penny Black Music UK

This is one of these funny records that I hated on the first listen, but with a couple more plays found myself, if not loving it, then at least admiring and wanting to listen again. This is largely due to a large slice of playfulness and quirky humour, both lyrical and musical, which runs like a seam of gold through the delicate folk terrain. There are a scattering of great melodic songs such as 'Sunny Day', a jaunty Randy Newmanesque piano driven piece that is, of course, less sunny that it first appears, although this is disguised this with legions of horns. 'Come to Care' is more delicate, with Cooley Hall’s not particularly strong voice struggling to match the quality of his songwriting.??At times the quirky inventiveness threatens to overspill into grating odd-for-the-sake-of-odd territory. This never really happens and is perhaps always saved by the quality of the musicianship (most of the instruments are played by the man himself) and the fine, catchy pop instinct that is refined by the alt.country accents. 'Dependable Downer' is an infectious powerful song, sort of reminiscent of Weezer and other smart aleccy American college bands. 'Untrue' is a more direct emotional song with appropriate country style backing. ??The album has three short pieces, or 'Dream Excerpts', which give the album a structure and variation which adds to the overall sense of a musician attempting, and largely succeeding, to produce a musically varied album, but one which works as a whole. ?

Reviewed By: Anthony Middleton
Label: Caunounicus Records
Format: CD