by Melissa Mueller
Southern Californian singer-songwriter Ernie Halter claims he is inspired by the likes of John Lennon and Otis Redding, but his latest record, Congress Hotel, sounds more like a cross between mainstream artists John Mayer and James Blunt.
I am not admittedly a fan of love ballads, but every once in awhile I find myself getting sucked into one. That being said, most of the love songs on Congress Hotel are chalk full of corny and cliché lyrics. Take in example first track “One You Need,” where Halter sings “Don’t worry baby girl/don’t have to say a word/you know I’ll be there. If you should ever need a shoulder you can cry on/I’m the one you can rely on.”
Further on in the record, Halter indeed displays his fine-tuned piano skills, as in “Love, Look at Me Now,” which is a bit funkier than the rest of the album. But again, Halter seems to struggle to rhyme whatever word and combine that with a repetitive chorus he can and use that to create a song. “I’d make your every wish my command/If you drown I’d bring you back, back to land/Where do I begin?/I’m ready to jump in.”
“Melissa” might be a track after my own heart, but in all honestly, if someone sang this song to me I would hang my head in embarrassment. “You shine the light, Melissa/They took it on yourself/You lead the way Melissa/You are the girl to carry on.” Is Melissa the second coming of Jesus? That’s the message I got out of it!
Love is undeniably a common theme in any music genre, but when an entire record is devoted to it, it starts to sound banal and hard to swallow. Halter is definitely guilty of lacking songwriting material. According to his biography, he has been writing songs since he was 15, unfortunately most if not all of the songs on Congress Hotel don’t showcase that ability. Judge for yourself.
More on Ernie Halter: www.myspace.com/erniehalter.