Rust Magazine: Solo Recordings Volume 2 review

The operative word when talking about scorchingly hot blues guitarist Steve Hill is Heavy. Not necessarily heavy like heavy metal, but more in the sense that there is a weight to everything he does. There is a density… a mass, and a gravity that means that what he does carries significant, weight and relevance. His talent is deep and his vision is wide, and it all pours out like molten gold in his eigth album Solo Recordings Volume 2.

Awarded, accomplished and renowned, Steve Hill has been active for 20 years from his home base in Canada, though his impact and reach have been truly global. Completely self-performed and produced, with Steve on all the instruments, Solo Recordings Volume 2 is an album to be taken seriously. It’s a twisting path into the center of the soul of Steve Hill. And it’s heavy in there.

This is an album that captivates you. The licks are delicious. The jams are earth-shaking. It’s the shit.

Solo Recordings Volume 2 realizes that shared idea of “that guy”… that blues man that takes the music to a whole new level. Whether it’s in a smoky bar with half a dozen dead-enders drinking away their suffering or a stadium with 20,000 fans all feeling the same vibe, Steve Hill is the guy that can make the moment special. And it’s all because he writes and performs from a place deeper within himself that others can see or imagine. He feels it, and through his talent, you feel it too. It’s his abilty to provide a music and a voice for things that were only emotions before that truly makes him special.

And that is what the ultimate expression of music is, finding a way to say things that have not been said before. Steve Hill has used his technical skills to craft a collection of music that people can truly relate to and feel. It’s an impressive album from an admirable artist with a signature style and a heart of molten gold. Very Highly Recommended.

RUST Magazine wanted to talk to Steve about the path that has led him to this point in life. Along the way he’s worked with, toured with, and recorded with some of the true heroes of modern music. So we reached out to Steve to talk to us about some of the people that have helped him along the way, and here’s what he had to say:

RUST: Steve, thanks for talking to us. Your last few albums have been solo albums with you on all the gear, but as the phrase goes, no man is an island, so we were wondering if you could tell us about some of the people that you’ve worked with, and what it was about your time together that helped you get to this moment in life. Let’s start with Jeff Beck, ZZ Top and Jimmie Vaughan?

SH: These are all artists with whom I’ve been the opening act. I’ve also opened for BB King, Ray Charles, Steve Winwood, Santana and so many others! I was very fortunate to meet, play with or share the stage with a lot of the old Bluesmen like Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hubert Sumlin and the list goes on. These were amazing learning experiences. I guess what I’ve learned the most out of that is that each and everyone of these artists have a different musical voice, a different sound which is what makes them great. And it does not have anything to do with the gear that they use.

As an exemple, when I played with Hubert Sumlin, a hero of mine ever since I bought my first Howlin’ Wolf record at the age of 15, his manager handed me his guitar for me to tune and asked me to set-up the amp for him, as Hubert is not really good with these things! I opened the guitar case and found a cheap Squier Stratocaster, something you could get anywhere for $250. The amp at the venue was a 70’s Fender Twin, not an amp that I would ever want to play through and yet when Hubert started playing, it sounded exactly like on Wolf’s records. I had been wondering for years how he got that sound! I’d look at pictures and he never had the same guitar! That day, it was proven to me, sound is a matter of soul and personality, not equipment. I knew that already but this was really an awakening moment. I believe we all have a different voice, different style, different sound, unique in every way, buried deep down inside. It can take a long time to find it. It’s very tempting to copy one’s heroes. But the reason why the greats are heroes is because they have found their own thing! You just got to close your eyes and play and play until you get a glimpse of what it is. It can take a long time and for others it’s probably instantaneous.

Really, if you focus on it and work hard for years, you’ll find it, that place deep inside of you, where you can access the real you, your soul, different from everybody else’s, as distinctive as a note played by BB King!

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