Jan. 15, 2016 10:19 AM

A record collector, Nigel Hall — a New Orleans resident since 2013 — values the past and its music. Like any collector, the gems he finds are treasures. Yet, they aren’t to be kept under glass; vinyl is to be enjoyed. As a result, his debut record, Ladies & Gentlemen … Nigel Hall, is retro and alive, not old. Music that Hall pulls from to forge his new music simply doesn’t get old. Here, Motown sounds, classic soul, funk and old school R&B styles are given a slight update, not that it needs it or not that this is an overhaul. Instead, Ladies & Gentlemen is a loving homage.

Ladies & Gentlemen doesn’t have whatever electronic/half drum ‘n’ bass/new modern sound you will hear on others “dedicated” to revising these classic sounds. His take on “Can’t Stand the Rain,” unlike Missy Elliot’s, is a cover that does the original justice, not some dreck for the sake of being dreck. To remake the Isley Brothers’ “Lay Away,” he brings in Questlove of The Roots and Ivan Neville. The result is a funky, percussion-driven romp. “Don’t Change for Me” packs a touch of organ a la Sly & The Family Stone and a beat that is a dash like Lenny Kravitz’ earlier work. Had Michael Jackson stayed with Jackson Five instead of becoming the King of Pop, he would have cut something along the lines of opener “Gimme a Sign.”

“Try, Try Try” shows how much his new home is rubbing off on him; loaded with trumpet and sax, it is an ultra funky new take on the Roy Ayers’ original with the feel of a Meters’ tune or the Wild Magnolias’ “Soul, Soul, Soul,” a classic funky New Orleans creation.

Although both his re-imaginings that play close to the originals and his own like-minded compositions are good songs, there’s no take-off track that will wear out the repeat button or launch him to household-name status. Yet, Ladies & Gentlemen is a good record that will blend nicely into a playlist of Motown favorites.


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