Halah (live at the Bridge School Benefit) :: Mazzy Star

Halah is the opening track from Mazzy Star’s first album, She Hangs Brightly. The album was released in 1990 on Rough Trade Records, following the demise of David Roback’s previous band Opal. The album was re-released by Capitol later that same year.

Halah was released as a single and reached # 19 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. It announced the band’s trademark effect with haunting guitar work and lyrics, and Hope Sandoval’s disengaged vocals.

Alanbumstead wrote on the song: Halah… tambourine, strummed three chord guitar, deep bass and Hope Sandoval’s gorgeous “gauzy voice” singing a sad break-up song, her lover’s leaving. She does ‘forlorn’ better than anyone, especially with that southern Californian drawl of hers, as in “I want you to hold on to things that you said / Baby I wish I was dead…/ … / Before I close the door / I need to hear you say goodbye / Baby won’t you change your mind.” Simple pop song really, but rich and sumptuous. Lovely slow instrumental bridge. Sandoval’s voice means everything in this song. She’s able to render it in any direction with such skilfully smooth transitions. Her phrasing and timing with the music is near perfect, one of her strong points. And yet … they make it sound so simple.

Editor’s Note: The song will always remind me of a certain set of deep blue eyes and a memory of a first shared kiss that burns brighter than the memory of everything that followed. There is a melancholic sadness and a missing ache that this song evokes in me that is both haunting and heartbreaking. Despite the sting though I am completely drawn to it, often playing it multiple times in a row, letting the sound wash over me, especially Hope’s voice.

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