Rock Me on the Water
founder (and accomplished sailor) John Hall
riding the waves of inspiration brought on during a two-year sea voyage spent aboard his 39-foot cutter, Athena
. As expected, the album is loaded with songs that contemplate the romance of the sea, the freedom of the open ocean, troubles along the way, and the eventual longing for home. In fact, that is exactly how it's sequenced -- as a document of his oceanic journey from beginning to end. Between the restless longing of the Jackson Browne
-penned opener, "Rock Me on the Water," and Jules Shear
's plaintive, homeward-heading "Every Place," Hall
reflects on life, love, family, and time through a captain's telescope, putting some distance between his landlocked self and his seafaring alter ego, ultimately gaining some serious insight through the separation. Musically, there are a number of influences here, from reggae-tinged tracks (like "Cuttyhunk" and the aforementioned "Every Place"), Brazilian-flavored ballads ("I Think of You"), and soft rockers ("Channel Pilot," "Another Sunset"), to country-rockers ("Gulf Stream Night," "Seven Mile Bridge), with each style successfully evoking suitable atmospherics for the lyrical content. The production is casual-slick, befitting the album's laid-back nature, and the musical performances all match that same vibe (most notably, Hall
's own intricate, slow-handed guitar playing and unadorned vocals), making for an album that delivers on its promise of easygoing contemplation and easy listening insight.