Blues Underground Network Review Steve Hill’s Solo Recordings Volume 2

Last year Steve Hill treated us to a 4 Track EP called “Solo Recordings Volume 1 1/2” as a nice little teaser in appreciation to all his fans. That particular release was my first intro to Steve Hill and one which I enjoyed enough that I chose it as the Best Canadian Roots and Blues Album in my 2013 Year End Review. Now with the release of “Solo Recordings Volume 2”, all of Steve Hill’s fans including myself get the chance to once again be treated with some more new music from this immensely talented artist.

“Solo Recordings Volume 2” consists of 11 Tracks, 8 of which are originals, which included 2 Tracks from “Solo Recordings Volume 1 1/2”. Steve said that unless he came up with a few tunes he liked more, that all 4 tunes off the release would be part of this new album. Well it seems that he did indeed find at least 2 songs he liked more. For the 3 covers, Steve Hill picked some really nice ones with Little Walter’s “Hate To See You Go”, Ray Bonneville’s “Simple Things”, and Mud Morganfield’s “I Want You To Love Me”.

When Steve Hill called this release a Solo Recording, he wasn’t kidding, because he is indeed the only performer on this album, doing all the Vocals, plus Guitar, Drums, Harp, and Percussion. All the Tracks were recorded alone and Live in 4 studio’s, with no overdubs, which made for a wonderful raw feel to the music. Showing us additional talents, Steve Hill Mixed, Co-Engineered, and Produced “Solo Recordings Volume 2”. It has always amazed me how big, bold, and raw the music can be on Solo recording and “Solo Recordings Volume 2” is certainly one of the better most recent examples of that.

One of the things you will find first and foremost on “Solo Recordings Volume 2”, is the stellar Guitar playing of Steve Hill, yet you should not be surprised about that, especially when you take into consideration that Hill was a Professional Guitar player by the age of 16 and performing in over 200 gigs a year by the age of 20. His first album, which was released in 1997, “was voted Best Canadian Debut Recording by Vancouver’s Real Blues magazine who also proclaimed Hill to be the best young Blues guitar player in North America! ” It is via “Solo Recordings Volume 2”, that Steve Hill, once again, brings all that immense talent to the forefront.

For my 3 favorites, which is really 3 of 11 favorites, I chose Tracks 3, 6, and 11, “Tough Love”, “Hate To See You Go”, and “Long Road”.

“Tough Love” caught my attention for a couple of reasons, the first being it was the only Track for which Steve Hill incorporated Harp, which although subtle, I still found very pleasing and a little unlike Harp I usually hear. This was also a Track for which the amazing songwriting and storytelling abilities really shone through. A really nice Track done in a slow folksy ballad style.

Little Walter’s forte was of course his revolutionary style of Harmonica playing, but I must say, that after listening to “Hate To See You Go”, this is perhaps how Little Walter would of sounded had he been a Guitar slinger, as this Track contained no Harp work at all from Steve Hill. Lots of just straight uptempo Guitar playing from Hill on this real beauty of a tune. This one also took me back to the time that Little Walter was just killing it.

“Long Road” was my favorite Track on “Solo Recordings Volume 1 1/2” and had no problem also being one of my top favorites on “Solo Recordings Volume 2”, for which I am very glad he included it on this release. “Long Road” is a really nice laid back Acoustically played song with lots of great finger picking, and as I mentioned in my review of his previous album, the song reminded me a lot of one of my favorite Canadian artists, Tim Bastmeyer. This was a really fine tune to finish off a really fine album.

“Solo Recordings Volume 2” represents, yet again, an artist for whom his talent and maturity far exceeds the number of years he has already been performing. Considered one of the finest Guitarists in North America, I must say, that after listening to to “Solo Recordings Volume 2”, I believe that those borders should be greatly expanded.

An amazing Roots & Blues album that will be hard to beat come my 2014 Year End Review.

Highly Recommended and Thoroughly Enjoyed… Really looking forward to more from this amazing talent…

Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)