Personnel: Alan Hampton (vocals, acoustic guitar); Josh Mease (electric guitar); Pete Rende (piano, keyboards); Bill Campbell (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: David Boucher.
Photographer: Susan Pittard.
Arranger: Alan Hampton.
When a sideman goes solo, the results are often rather unbalanced, with lots of impressive licks flying around a batch of uninspiring tunes. In the case of Alan Hampton, though, this couldn't be further from the truth. Hampton made his name as a bass player, and he's worked in that capacity with everyone from Sufjan Stevens to jazzman Robert Glasper. Stepping out as a singer/songwriter for his debut album, The Moving Sidewalk, Hampton easily casts off his muso chains. The ease with which he inhabits the troubadour role makes it sound like he's been doing it for most of his life, and he shows more of a knack for it than some of those who actually have been. Undoubtedly aided by the well-schooled musicality that defines his "day job," Hampton reveals a sophisticated harmonic palette as a songwriter, but these tunes aren't just impressive examples of applied theory: he knows how to structure a song for maximum emotional impact, and he's got the lyrical chops to put the whole package together. Stylistically, the Brooklyn-based artist falls roughly into the area occupied by fellow New Yorkers like Jesse Harris and Richard Julian, who are best known for their collaborations with Norah Jones. Hampton has a bit of Harris' gentle, reedy vocal tones and light, jazzy touch, as well as some of Julian's Paul Simon/Donald Fagen-influenced harmonic sensibilities. Splashes of pop, rock, and Americana blow through Hampton's tunes, and he sounds as comfortable singing atop a string-laced chamber pop arrangement as he is in front of a full electric band, but it's his thoughtful, fingerpicked guitar patterns that remain at the core of most of The Moving Sidewalk. ~ J. Allen
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