Monday, June 16, 2014


Montreal's Hill is redefining blues, taking it forward and back all at once.  Back to the days of one-man operations, doing it all himself, and taking that forward with up-to-date electric heaviness.  2012 saw him start a new journey with Solo Recordings Vol. 1, stripping it all back to a one-on-one experience with the songs and the listener.  Already recognized as a leading guitar player, Hill grabbed even more cache with a raw, intimate set that was nominated for that year's Juno.  Volume 2 is richer, deeper, better.

What you get is all Hill, no overdubs, and that alone is quite a feat.  Not only is he playing either acoustic or electric, he's laying down a bunch of one-man band accompaniment at the same time.  He's got a mini-drum set with a bass drum and hi-hat, other bits of percussion, harmonica, plus playing bits of bass line on guitar as well as the chords or lead.  And, he has to do it while getting across a batch of new songs, eight originals and three covers, making them as strong as can be.  The goal is to have the listener concentrate on the quality of the material, not on the novelty of the performance.  This he accomplishes in spades.  Numbers such as Never Is Such A  Long Time, a blistering and dark tune with hair-raising guitar in the middle, an ominous performance with a passionate vocal, sound complete.  His version of Little Walter's Hate To See You Go is just as tough and scary as the Chicago harp players' take, Hill's more claustrophobic.

For those who feel modern blues players don't get to the core of the music, a listen to Hill will help.  He's one of the few that has found the way to pass on that primal urgency.

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