But What If I’m Right? (Independent)
Revered is led by singer-keyboardist Emmett Hall, who’s known around town as the musical director of the comedic improv troupe the Sunday Service. Unlike Hall’s usual musical undertakings, But What If I’m Right? isn’t overtly funny, although listeners might get a chuckle or two out of its wildly over-the-top new-wave arrangements and theatrical prog complexity.
Recorded in collaboration with coproducer Pietro Sammarco (of local arts collective Weekend Leisure), the album’s eight tracks are delivered with the flamboyant grandeur of a Broadway production. Whether briefly affecting a super-villain-style belly laugh on the twinkling “Reasons to Be Kind” or spitting rapid-fire lines about “The tears, the piss, the cum, the snot” amid ’80s sci-fi synths on “Dying Forever”, Hall blurs the line between earnestness and irony, making But What If I’m Right? a decidedly disorienting listen.
As baffling and amusing as these songs often are, Hall’s musical chops are no laughing matter. While most of the album is electronic, the stripped-down “Middle of the End” highlights the songwriter’s dexterity on piano. Hall also draws on a cast of similarly talented backing musicians: the ornate synth epic “Cold Cheap Sun” culminates with a solo of arena-sized guitar shredding, and the horn break on “Reasons to Be Kind” evokes the squealing sax sexiness of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”.
So even if it’s a little difficult to know whether to take Revered seriously, the instrumental complexity and bombastic delivery make But What If I’m Right? an intriguing debut.