Société blues de Montréal: Solo Recordings Volume 1 1/2

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 playing.

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 works.

Lastly, Hill 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:

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