Transition and resolution. Both themes run consistently like a red thread through the 11 songs that make up Gayle Day's new release Freedom Paradise. As things kick off with Coasting, the verse starts out a bit weary and noncommittal: Ive been searching from place to place The verse leads down toward a harder, darker transition; then the chorus breaks out, modulating up in key, and Gayles voice double-times the lyrics almost frantically, outrunning the tambourine and creamy backgrounds: Im floating up above the sky, above the mist and Im hoping theres got to be a better place than this The perfect summer pop tune, but theres something more complex lurking below the innocence.
This is an apt introduction to Gayle Day, who just happens to look as if she were born to play the role of a pop star. The six-foot tall chanteuse takes the stage with her Gibson jumbo, and no one in the room looks away. Model-looks aside, her down-to-earth demeanor and self-depreciating wit disarm the audience; her pure vocal delivery eases the impact of some decidedly grown-up lyrics.
Hailing from London, Gayle followed a different trajectory than the typical singer/songwriter. Her dad was a guitarist, signed to Decca in the sixties. So when Gayle exhibited musical leanings, she decided to learn piano, guitar, and even completed a tough sound-engineering course, all in an effort to gain self-sufficiency.
At one point she started composing a song with a visiting American, Kevin Hunter (late of Wire Train, Tuesday Night Music Club), but a five year span encompassing moves to New York and Los Angeles delayed its completion. It was while working with current producer Bill Lefler that Gayle and Kevin were re-introduced and were able to complete the tune.
The song "Alone" as well as "Hotel Room" penned by Day/Hunter, both appear on "Freedom Paradise". Lefler's masterful production on Freedom keeps the focus on Gayle's vocals, and puts a shifting palette of textures behind her, making one song flow effortlessly into another.
The album works as a cohesive whole, start to finish. Perfect for the "repeat" button. On the final cut and signature tune, "Freedom Paradise", Gayle was again in a transitional phase. While on vacation in Mexico, and preoccupied with personal problems, her inner voice asked for a sign. It was then she spotted an actual neon sign with the song/album title. Later, on a swim in the warm coastal waters, she wrote the song in her head. "I knew then that paradise was inside me, not about going anywhere."
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