Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Steve Hill, Solo Recordings Volume 3

As the first notes of  “Rhythm All Over” explode from the stage, audience members rub their eyes, convinced they hear a band, but see one man. It’s like being pummeled by the hot exhaust of a jet engine as Steve Hill, singlehandedly, blows the audience back into their seats.

This is the launch of “Solo Recordings Volume 3”.

The new album by Steve Hill
The audience is quickly reminded Steve Hill is an exceptionally coordinated man. While his hands work the guitar, his mouth sings and plays harmonica, his right foot plays the snare and his left foot is busy with a bass drum. As the guitar neck crazily rocks up and down so the drumstick attached to the end can smash a cymbal, there are moments when he appears to be gigging aboard a fishing trawler on choppy seas. Through the impossibly hectic performance, Steve Hill doesn’t miss a note.
If there were no sound at all, his concerts would still amaze.

Amazing too, is that Steve Hill insists he is a far better musician on “Volume 3” than he was two albums ago. Chatting moments before his album launch, he explains his guitar playing, harp playing and drumming have all improved by virtue of the massive number of shows he’s done since the release of the first album in the trilogy. He will tell you that because he quit smoking, even his voice has improved, although to fans, it’s hard to imagine his rugged and roguish voice sounding better than it always did.

He says compared to Volumes 1 & 2, the new album “rocks more”. It does that; the opening track, “Damned”, is hard-driving. It’s followed by “Dangerous”, which has a solid rock groove. 

Last Thursday's launch at Le Verre Bouteille
He’s been garnering heaps of attention for his blues playing, but just as Lynn Anderson never promised a rose garden, Steve Hill never promised blues exclusively.  He did promise solo recordings and while “Volume 3” delivers thick, straight ahead blues tracks like “Smoking Hot Machine”, it also churns out songs built on both genres, like, “Walking Grave”.

The unplugged tracks on “Volume 3”, including “Slowly Slipping Away” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”, deliver the clean, calming, more intimate sound his fans are so fond of.  “Emily”, co-written by Hill and Joshua Parlett, packs a carefree kick.

Winner of the 2015 Juno Award for Blues Album of the Year, Steve Hill, is the winner of multiple 2016 Maple Blues Awards. Just as he did in 2015, he has been recognized as Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year and Guitarist of the Year. 

Whether they’re buying his albums or attending his sold-out shows, people are listening to his music, which, according to Steve Hill, is better than ever. People are talking about his music, giving him all the more reason to do what his fans are doing, going down the road feeling good.