Tom T. Hall

Songs From Sopchoppy – 1996 (Mercury)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

CDs by Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall is one of the great songwriters in country music. Nicknamed the 'Old Storyteller,' in the 60's through the early 80's, he wrote and recorded many chart songs. One of his most famous, "Harper Valley PTA, was a smash hit for Jeannie C. Riley.

For much of the past decade, Hall's been in retirement, and away from the music scene. This is his first new album in quite a while. Most of the songs here were inspired by life in Sopchoppy, the tiny Florida town in which Hall now resides. The tone of the album is markedly different from any of his previous efforts. Recorded in Sopchoppy, with local musicians, there is little of the hard-edged, 'Nashville Sound' evident here. The songs are more wistful and melancholy than most of Hall's earlier efforts, perhaps reflective of the slower pace of life now for the 'Old Storyteller.'

Favorite tunes include "Shoes and Dress That Alice Wore," "Little Bitty" and the tongue in check "Redneck Riviera,"penned by Hall's wife, Dixie. In an industry that encourages copycats, Tom T. Hall is an original. Though not his best album, long-time fans will appreciate that he hasn't lost the knack for crafting a great song.