Spend a couple of hours with this excellent two-CD, 50-song retrospective of Hall's impressive catalog. Listen to him sing about his life and times--and those of countless other people he's encountered during his travels. His friendly voice half sings, half speaks tales of army buddies and children, down-and-outers and big-time dreamers, as easily as your favorite uncle might spin a yarn while sitting around the supper table.
At first, the stories--about a hitchhiker he picked up last week, or a janitor sweeping a barroom floor--seem like nothing out of the ordinary. Yet hidden inside these everyday experiences are moments of subtle but extraordinary beauty. The truth is right in front of us, his songs seem to say, we just don't always see it. Hall's brilliance is that he's as straightforward as he is insightful--he understands the people he's singing about as much as those he's singing to, and his easy way with language comes across as both charming and powerful. You immediately recognize the emotions hidden behind his clever turns of phrase.