Southern Halo – Self-Titled

by Rick Moore

southern-halo_self-titled“Little White Dress,” the opening track of the self-titled debut album by Southern Halo, begins with 16 seconds of a cappella singing, establishing right off the bat what this group is all about – great vocals. This trio of teenage sisters – lead singer Natalia Morris and her harmonizing younger sisters, Christina and Hannah – conjures instant comparisons to SHeDAISY or the Dixie Chicks. Add in their high-spirited enthusiasm of youth and you’ve got an act, and an album, that is going to turn some heads.

Family harmonies in Country music, from the Carter family to the Judds, have always resonated with the public, and this young group is going to be no exception. Natalia’s voice and phrasing can be compared to Danielle Bradbery or Kelsea Ballerini (who also has a co-write on this album with the song “Moon Shine”), and the little sister harmonies are so tight it sounds like one voice.

The songs are fun and infectious and sung from the point of view of a young woman, but have more of a rebellious and good-time attitude than, say, Taylor Swift’s teenage material. “Little White Dress” addresses the things Natalia wants to do before she settles down, and how she’s still too young for matrimony. “Rewind” is a song about longing to get home to relax in the great outdoors with a boyfriend. And the uptempo, kick drum-fueled “Life Rolls On,” is a witty look at how three girls still in their teens can miss the “long lazy days” of junior high school.

This 10-track CD was expertly produced by Catt Gravitt (Jana Kramer, Kelly Clarkson) and Gerald O’Brien (Martina McBride, Manhattan Transfer). The duo did an exceptional job here of creating an album by teenage girls, with teenage themes, that is listenable for a broader audience. The Pop/Country sound sometimes leans to the Rock side of things, but is brought back to the basics by the occasional banjo, all of it perfectly supporting and complementing the vocals. Gravitt and O’Brien also did a lot of the writing here, but Natalia, with some writing chops of her own, wrote two of the songs and shares the credit on two others. And all three sisters, who are also instrumentalists in their live show, contributed to “Life Rolls On.”

Hailing from Cleveland, Mississippi, these girls are from the heart of the Delta, but they definitely aren’t singin’ the blues. They’ve already played the Ryman in Nashville, and have opened for everybody from Randy Houser to Jamie Lynn Spears. Southern Halo is an impressive debut from three talented girls who can really sing and have an amazing career ahead of them.

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