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Hal Ketchum

Awaiting Redemption – 1999 (Curb)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Hal Ketchum

Hal Ketchum has no reason to feel guilty, even though his latest has the confessional title of "Awaiting Redemption." Its sound is stripped down and soulful and filled with songs that sting like an exposed nerve.

After his recent slew of business and personal problems, Ketchum is probably just plain happy to still be standing, even though he can't quite keep his knees from shaking. His best songs look back fondly to those days before all innocence was lost. "Days Of Wonder" paints a picture of happier times when love felt a lot like a fairy tale, with its guaranteed happy ending. "When Blue Was Just A Color" reaches all the way back to childhood to recapture a few of life's simple pleasures. Back then, blue was nothing more than just another color in the crayon box.

This may reveal the hard road Ketchum has been forced to travel of late, but if it's any consolation, he's been fortunate to have redeemed a treasure trove of songs from these fiery trials.

There are probably easier trails leading to that hallowed place of artistic inspiration, but at least Hal Ketchum can rest in the knowledge that he'll be coming out of this dark mine with a few shining diamonds.