Robby Hecht (Late Last Night)
LATE LAST NIGHT • Robby Hecht (Review)
It's not easy to be the new buzz songwriter guy in Nashville, this town full of singer songwriters. But if they were talking about Robby Hecht's songs and his voice last week, they're going to be talking about his record now.
As good as he is, and that's plenty good, running into Lex Price as a multi-instrumentalist producer was a milestone. Lex is one of those quiet guys that comes far fast, and doesn't spend any time at all talking about it.
For the soft and beautiful songs of Hecht, Price brought a group of talented compadres along. How lucky can a guy be, to have backing vocalists that include Mindy Smith, Jill Andrews, Jordan Caress, Thad Cockrell, and Sarah Siskind? Hell, those are some of my favorite singers.
Some of those involved told me he was reminiscent of James Taylor but I don't hear that--I certainly hear David Wilcox, though no singer songwriter wants to be compared to him on the guitar. But Hecht is no slouch here, he's a very melodious and deft fingerstylist. And his voice is the lightest version of smoky, a pure singer with smoky on 1.
But the ensemble sound is world class, absolutely. The rich and resonant rhythm section is mostly Dave Jacques on upright bass and Brian Owings on drums, though the producer handles the bottom end on a few numbers and Daniel Tashian the skins and percussion on "Freight Train Lady," the only song on this quiet record that incorporates a groove or registers as mid-tempo. That's certainly no crime--in fact, if a soft, easy, beautiful record is what you're after, look no further. James Digirolamo does a superb job ..s of all kinds (piano, organ, wurly, accordion, synth), though keyboard cameos show up from Kyle Andrews, Peter Bradley Adams, John Deaderick, and Neilson Hubbard. Again, when you get Lex Price, you're pluggin into a world that also involves Andrea Zonn on viola, Matt Combs on strings, and Jeff Coffin on saxophone.
But the artist provides the vessel for the journey, and is his own captain. West Coast wonder A.J. Roach provides the only cover song here, "My Chemicals." Otherwise it's the classic love and loss songs and the soldier song "Along The Way" from the new crooner in town, Robby Hecht, that point the way, and he's going to make a name for himself with this convincing release.
• Frank Goodman (puremusic.com)
Music Reviews: Hard Candy and More
May 1, 2008 - 6:38am — Kelly McCartney
I have to start this week off by telling you about my pal Robby Hecht. If you like early Paul Simon and James Taylor, or even Shawn Colvin, then you're going to love this guy. His new CD, Late Last Night, is so beautiful (in that really mellow acoustic vein) that it just almost makes me want to cry. It's the kind of record that I put on repeat because, if that's the mood I'm in, nothing else will do. Robby's new, yet classic tunes remind me of Simon's "Kathy's Song" or JT's "Fire and Rain." I know that's near blasphemy in some circles, but that's how good I think this kid is. The melodies are delicate and lovely; the lyrical phrases make me wish I had written them. And this is his first solo record. Guest artists include Mindy Smith, Thad Cockrell, Peter Bradley Adams and Jill Andrews from the Everybodyfields. Mindy and Jill's beautiful harmonies infuse Lex Price's tasteful and grounded production. I can't toot this horn loud enough.
Peer as Folk
Robby Hecht's full-length debut proves he's found his kind of people in Nashville
by Jewly Hight, Nashville Scene
CD release show Thursday, 8th at Mercy Lounge
Talking about Robby Hecht's musical experiences in Nashville is like playing six degrees of Lex Price. Nashville's folk-pop singer-songwriter scene has grown steadily, ﬁrst with folks such as Mindy Smith, Julie Lee and Sarah Siskind, and more recently with Thad Cockrell, Hecht and others. And Price has often been in the middle of it all as a producer (for Smith) or sideman (for Siskind and Cockrell).
Price also produced Hecht's debut solo album, Late Last Night. For that reason—not to mention the fact that Smith, Siskind and Cockrell all supplied harmonies on various tracks—it's a good snapshot of Nashville's folk-pop common ground, something it took Hecht his ﬁrst six months in town to ﬁnd.
"Right off the bat, I fell into this bluesy country scene," says Hecht. "It was a while before I fell into a group of writers that I felt were along the same lines as I was. I think Julie [Lee] was the ﬁrst kindred songwriting spirit that I found in Nashville."
Hecht met Lee on a tour bus heading to a beneﬁt for the Sago miners' families, and the domino effect took hold from there. He came to hear Lee sing backup at another show and met Siskind and Price; Lee introduced Hecht to Americana Folk Festival founder Dara Carson, through whom he met Cockrell; and he ran into Smith when they both played AFF.
Besides personnel, Late Last Night shares with Hecht's folk-pop counterparts a love of ﬁne textures, fetching melodies and sifted-smooth lyrics. It's a polished set for an independent debut. Of course, Hecht had his ways of working out over the years: the short-lived band AllDay Radio and busking in Paris and San Francisco.
"I used to love playing in the street and the subways," Hecht says. "I actually used to compete with this bagpipe guy. He always made more money than me. It's kind of sad that we don't have any kind of underground system here, because that was really fun. And you can't really play in the street here, because there's too many people doing it. It's so cliché."
True to its title, the album evokes hours passing quietly after dark. Price's delicate touch helped. "You can tell when Lex [Price] has produced a record," Hecht says. "It's [distinctive] like when you hear Eddie Van Halen play a guitar solo. It's really sensitive."
Many of the songs meditate on losing or savoring love, with a few variants thrown in, like the reluctant soldier ballad "Along the Way" and a cover of A.J. Roach's psalm for addicts "Chemicals."
"It doesn't even really matter that it's ['Chemicals'] about alcohol," Hecht says. "It's so beautiful. Some people didn't think I should put it on there because it's so different from the rest of the record. I talk about whiskey on the record—but that one is about whiskey. The rest of the record you could play for your kids."
Hecht's upcoming release show will continue in the six degrees vein with Siskind, The Bittersweets and Peter Bradley Adams on the bill. (Price also produced the latter two.) Hecht doesn't take for granted the musical wealth he's found in Nashville.
"When I lived in San Francisco, I'd always just ﬁnd myself at open mics and I'd just be hoping that there'd be one good person here," he says. "I can come here and go to a show and it's always good. That's what's crazy about Nashville—all these amazing people that you've never heard of before. Gillian Welch is like a god here—or a goddess—but elsewhere if you know of her, you feel special."