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Neil Halstead channels Dylan, Bragg on debut

Sleeping On Roads, the solo debut album from Mojave 3 front man Neil Halstead is a relaxing compilation of folk songs from a very talented singer/songwriter. Each song tells a different story, incorporating the traditional themes of love and remembrance. Halstead's experiences and emotions are found in the lyrics of his songs, while his subtle finger picking is mesmerizing and beautiful.

Displaying both talent and energy, Halstead has the ability to engage the listener with the use of different vocal ranges and sounds. On track two, "Two Stones In My Pocket," the backing vocals that seem higher than Halstead's voice are actually his own voice layered over the main track.

"See you on Rooftops," track five, is a love song with a more upbeat tempo than the rest of the album. Lyrically, Halstead expresses his emotion for the long distance separating two lovers, with the use of intergalactic sounds emphasizing the amount of space in the song. The addition of eclectic sounds and a powerful climax to the song gives the listener the understanding that the lovers are finding a way to be together. But Halstead is clever in leaving the fate of the couple unknown to the listener.

Sleeping On Roads is an album filled with little nuances that give the listener the ability to look into the life of Halstead, exploring his world. As a singer/songwriter, a musician must have the ability to captivate an audience. Halstead does this, portraying vivid imagery with his lyrics, use of rhythms and vocal range.

Some of Halstead's rhythms are reminiscent of Billy Bragg, while his voice on the final track is a clean version of Bob Dylan's.

The final track, "High Hopes," has a rhythm that is very similar to Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." Even though Halstead's voice is much less raspy than Dylan's, the comparison to Dylan is inevitable.

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As his debut album, Sleeping On Roads is a good, solid piece of music. It shows much more talent than David Gray, an English counterpart, and is comparable to the work of Billy Bragg. As a precursor to the fourth Mojave 3 album that Halstead is now working on, this is just a glimpse of what's to come.

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