With his debut album Hallowed Ground, Daryl Hance has stepped out from his 12-year long role as guitarist for southern rock and soul band JJ Grey & Mofro, just as if compadre Grey and his Mofro cohorts eased their skiff up close enough to the bank for Hance to jump off and venture back out into his own neck of the woods. A landscape decorated by an unrelenting sonic-blast of groovin' rock and roll music built of humid-heavy blues-driven guitar grooves, fully-cranked funky riffs, soothing slide and acoustic guitars. All cushioning a very laid back and largely introspective vocal style atop thick bass lines and pocket-locked drums.
Consisting of thirteen original positive-charged Hance compositions, Hallowed Ground was recorded in St. Augustine, Florida at Jim Devito's Retrophonics Studio, and mixed at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee during the fall of 2010. Produced by Hance, Engineered and Recorded by Matt Grondin, the majority of the tracks were laid down live in the studio in one day, with the remaining time spent overdubbing. Beat master Anthony Cole held down the drums, while Jacksonville veteran musician Shane Platten manned the bass. Organist Adam Scone also dropped by to lend some of his world-renowned organ skills to a couple of tracks. "The songs went to tape fairly easily as I had spent the past six years demoing most songs numerous times, then I re-demoed everything again the month before at home. Plus Anthony, Shane, and myself have been rocking the tunes out live over the course of the last year. Additionally, it was killer that Matt was able to do this record with me as his enthusiasm, engineering skills, and vast knowledge of studio gear was essential", said Hance.
"The album title Hallowed Ground comes from a verse in a song I had planned for the record, and although that particular song didn't make it on the finished recording, the name stuck. It lends itself to what the record is, which is finding your stationary balance in life that transcends everything else so to speak, or your Hallowed Ground. I think technically it means sacred or blessed ground or something to that effect. Anyway, it's a really cool sounding title for an album and has been used by others as a title for many records over the years", says Hance.
Strong out the gate on Hallowed Ground is Here Tonight, which is sort of a Jimi Hendrix/Curtis Mayfield-ish self-reassurance "get you ass in gear" song backed by an AC/DC Back in Black-like riff romping vibe. A song like A Breath Away with its easygoingness and soaring lap-slide crescendos could as easily been an outtake from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon. The Devil is a "look in the mirror" at the darker side of human nature set to an ominous likeness of what sonically might have been a Black Sabbath tune with its haunting atmospheric tone and whirlpool coda of guitar-noise, flute, and wood-knocking.
Referencing descriptives aside, Hallowed Ground is a record full of hard-hitting funky rock and roll diversely interspersed with layered ballad-esque movements, acoustic and electric cuts. A song inspired by a euphoric dream In The Dark , solo acoustic desolation and hopefulness Dragonfly, and a fiery distorted electric-blues drone in Through The Trees. A solid very accessible often dark record with moments of lightness and insightfulness. An unassuming thread of oneness and solitude woven throughout, though not quite a concept album. More of a striving reprieve for deliverance from ones own self, realizing that in the midst of it all... "I've always been home". Whatever the case, it rocks!