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CD Review (by Phil Brisse)
Steve Hill: Solo Recordings Volume 1½
So you really
liked Solo Recordings: Volume 1. You were really looking forward to
Volume 2. You heard it was going to be released in the fall of 2013.
And then...that didn't happen. And you're rightfully disappointed.
Steve Hill feels for you. Really, he does. That's why he released a 4
song stop gap EP last month, aptly titled Solo Recordings: Volume 1½.
The full Volume 2 disc is slated for release in early March of 2014,
and 9 songs are already completed. Hill's 168 shows in support of
Volume 1 are now behind him, and he is taking the next couple of months
to finalize Volume 2.
Steve Hill has
taken his one man band experience a couple of steps farther this time
out. If you've seen him live (and you really need to so you can
appreciate just how insane the talent is), you know he has added a
snare drum and a harmonica to the mix to complement the bass drum,
hi-hat, beer can coin shaker taped to his boot, singing, and of course,
lest we forget, guitar playing. The result is a fuller sound. If you
closed your eyes, you could be excused for thinking a band was on stage
Steve Hill has
chosen one cover and three original songs for Volume1½. He opens with a
cover of 'Money' and puts his own twist on to the John Lee Hooker
version that he listened to repeatedly when recording Volume 1. He
describes it as a "boogie chillin'" version. Hard to disagree. It
starts off with a slow, swampy sound, and then drives forward with bass
and snare drum accentuating the guitar work. The fuller sound Hill was
aiming for has been accomplished. It's a far cry from the stripped down
foot stomping that dominated on Volume 1.
The next two
songs are original compositions: 'Nothing New' and 'Go On'. On 'Nothing
New' we get to hear Hill play the harp, an instrument he added to his
arsenal less than a year ago. It' s a song he wrote on the long
36 hour drive back from Regina the Juno awards last April. It has a
haunting, sitting on a front porch, down on the bayou kind of vibe to
it. "Go On' has a dirty, growling guitar sound to it. Again augmented
with harp licks, Hill sings of an unconditional love for someone or
something, 'no matter what you do'. The drums are staccato gunfire. It
closes with another original cover. In other words, he is covering one
of his own songs, 'Long Road'. The song was featured on his 2007 CD
'Devil at my Heels'. Let me tell you, two versions could not be further
apart. Hill claims the new version is closer to the way it was
originally written because it evolved from an early acoustic version.
The guitar playing is again front and centre, and listening closely is
something to behold. If you've ever tried playing guitar, you'll
understand how many hours went in to getting to where he is. The guitar
line is helped along my subtle drum accents. The drums are reminiscent
of a locomotive, chugging along, moving the song forward. My favourite
piece on this EP, hands down.
Volume1½ (and no doubt Volume 2) takes over where Volume 1 left off. Fuller sound, more badass. Volume 3 anyone?
If you missed the video interview with Steve Hill, here it is: