In a similar vain to the kind of characters that you might discover on a classic Tom Waits album from the early 70s, ‘Last Night at the Ha-Ra’, the latest release from American songwriter Bill Magill, is a highly thought out collective of tales in which the revelations of a group of regulars of the Ha-Ra bar in sunny San Francisco share their innermost while exploring deep emotional themes such as how far one is willing to go for the woman they love, and even a heartfelt exploration of assisted suicide.
Magill’s musical heritage stretches back to his teens where, in a past life, he was Rowdy Doody of cult power pop Tina Peel. Since then, he has become one of the most cultural singer-songwriters in his field, combining his prestige as a multi-instrumentalist to a jovial style that serenades an emotional last-hurrah taking muse from real people with real stories to tell.
Now hailing in Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France, the American born Magill, has assembled musicians from Britain, France, America and Australia to flesh out the reality of the narrative – each of them bringing something of their native influence to enhance the experience. The record, in fact, has a distinctively French flair to it and as well as an un-satirised favouring of an accordion, it also features vocals in the language from his significant other. Nuance and diversity are real strengths of the recording, and little details such as authentic sounds of glasses being ‘cheers’d’, which were recorded at the actual venue, lie at the heart of its essence.
From having recorded the demos for each track in his home studio, Magill then shares them with Vivid Stage Productions – whom he is the creative force behind alongside keyboardist David Dower and also Russell Cottier the North West UK based production specialist who worked on this record. As well as Magill’s core band at Vivid Stage, a host of invited guests such as Pete Thomas – drummer for Elvis Costello and the Attractions and Daniel Mille – the award-winning French accordionist, have also contributed.