Hail more-or-less chronicles Graham Lewis' attempts to become a pop star whilst attempting to retain the freedom of expression he experienced within the Dome project, which in itself achieved some fantastic pop moments.
It all begins promisingly enough with the quiet electro-pop of Pump which has a haunting Angela Conway vocal that perfectly compliments Lewis' deeply delivered lyrics. Despite sounding very dated, Shapes to Escape is also pretty good, but things start to go a bit awry with the utterly dire Kidnap Yourself, which highlights the confusion as to where this release wants to sit. A nasty 'boinging' rhythm is combined with some Lewis vocals and rough guitar. It sounds like a weak Dome piece or under-developed pop track and either way it fails.
Hail moves between the high of Pump and low of Kidnap Yourself many times, never reaching one or the other again. Only One I becomes a real bastard child of the P'o piece, having been combined with the rather rough pop ethos of this album, but I Fall into your Arms—a little more experimental in its execution—works well.
It's fairly obvious that this was a transitionary phase in Lewis' musical path, and Hail rarely feels like it knows what it's doing, veering as it does between overt Dome-like experimentation and fairly staid '80s pop. Consequently, although there are a few good tracks, most are too under-developed or unfocussed to persevere with.
Craig Grannell (March, 2000)