If Trevor Halls 2009 self-titled Vanguard Records debut represented the young musicians struggle with finding himself, his follow-up, Everything Everytime Everywhere (August 23rd) is a courageous affirmation that he has become the man he had been seeking. The warm linearity of his prior work gives way to a mature artist hitting his stride, an image that persists throughout this body of work, from the easy reggae slide of the opening "The Return" and the anthemic "Brand New Day" straight through to the momentous closing track, "The Mountain." Halls signature blend of catchy pop/rock songs infused with tasteful shades of reggae has made this diverse 24-year-old one of the most lauded up-and-coming musicians on the American music scene.
"With the last album, I was exploring more," Hall says from his Southern California home. "I was going through a struggle with myself, and all that grittiness came out. With this one I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had much greater conviction."
While on Trevor Hall, the singer wove Sanskrit chants into pop- and rock-laced songs, he now feels that the underlying themes of devotion and community remain while he focuses less on making them feel so apparenthe never sacrifices his music for a message. Rather, his music is the message. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the upbeat "Brand New Day," in which he confidently casts aside his former self to welcome new possibilities:
Shake the dust off your hands/And come run free on this land/If you want to survive/Its time to wake up and sing/Put the crown on the king/Live your life/Wake up/Its a brand new day
Hall easily exudes that rare ability to write universal songs that appeal to broad audiences in the vein of two of his heroes, Ben Harper and Bob Marley. The strong focus on love on Everything Everytime Everywhere quickly burrows itself into our minds, even though the love he discusses is more celestial than earthly. Hall continually employs poetic metaphors to represent "internal heights," the ability of each human to recognize their highest self, as on the epic track, "The Love Wouldnt Die."
"That song is my favorite on this record," Hall says. "Musically its very different than what I usually do. Its the second-to-last song, right before 'The Mountain, which is this very triumphant journey of ascending a peak. With everything I do, that home stretch is the most difficult. The song is about living a spiritual life in a material world, of being a stranger in a strange land. At some point you get scared of being so different, and you want to conform and be like everybody else. But once you have a higher taste of spiritual life, everything else seems mundane. No matter how hard you try to fall asleep to this spiritual part of you, you cant. That love wont die."
Trevor Halls heartfelt balladry may perhaps prove more meaningful to fans than his powerful rock anthems. The opening bass line of one such song, "All I Ever Know," unfolds into a beautiful and inspiring song about finding comfort in the face of adversity:
We put the stars to shame/What can I say/The earth it turns but we never fade away/Forever hold on/Forever stay close/All I ever need/Youll be all I ever know
While looking outward for universal love, Hall is not afraid of turning inside. This shines through on the one song that is about human love, the gorgeous and heartbreaking "Te Amo." The young man grows quieter than his usual buoyant self while explaining. "When youre a musician, you meet a lot of people, but youre always moving. You cant really get attached to anyone. Sometimes you meet someone who really has a big effect on you. 'Te Amo was a situation where I met a woman and fell in love very quickly, but I knew it wasnt going to work because of my life. I had to make a decision. Its a tricky place."
While Hall spends his days listening to Indian devotional music and Golden Era reggae from the 1960s and '70s, his music is modern and immediately recognizable. The eleven tracks on Everything Everytime Everywhere are guitar-driven gems that fit right at home in the catalog of his influences. Created with a host of incredible musicians, including longtime Matisyahu guitarist Aaron Dugan, bass player Brian Lang and drummer Aaron Sterling, Halls stellar guitar playing and distinctive voice is backed by a crew of sonic experts.
Like the events in his life, each song is a complete journey itself. The ska- and calypso-influenced "Different Hunger" was inspired after touring with the legendary Jimmy Cliff, while "The Return," a smooth and relaxed percussion-filled track reminiscent of Jack Johnsons early work, represents getting back to his own divinityyet in no rush to arrive. Then theres the playful "Dr. Seuss," the albums most driving track, which Hall co-wrote with producer Jimmy Messer.
"I walked in one day and he had this beat going," Hall says. "It was awesome, and I said we had to come hard lyrically on this. That became the first line of the song. Then I realized that so many people come hard with their attitude, and never step back and enjoy the variety that exists in life. So while I was developing this theme, Jimmy said he had read Dr. Seuss to his son that morning, and that became the theme to the song: not worrying about whats better than another, but enjoying the variety of life."
Beyond his years in sound and maturity, Trevor Hall has accomplished what great musicians do when presented with such circumstances: he created lasting art to inspire and comfort others. Everything Everytime Everywhere is the testament of an inner warrior trying to lift himself and those around him out of the everyday maladies that plague our lives. There are songs to fall asleep to, songs to wake up by, and songs to feel good about yourself. They encapsulate life and make you a part of Trevor Halls world, while his music becomes part of yours.