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Ned Hill Band (from the album Thousand Watt Town available as a self-release) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Veteran troubadour Ned Hill comes across a no-nonsense kind of guy, a gruff but good-natured insurgent primed to overcome whatever obstacles stand in his way. That down-home demeanor translates well as far as the rousing and robust songs that litter the riveting new album by Ned Hill Band, Thousand Watt Town.
Opening track “Gotta Get Out of This Town” sets the tone, an anthemic expression of desire and discontent that brings to mind Bruce Springsteen duking it out with Steve Earle. In truth, Hill’s feisty attitude frequently brings the latter to mind throughout this nine-song set, but his restless spirit parallels the Boss’s blue-collar desires as well. There’s an unceasing sense of both remorse and resolve present in each of these entries, especially as expressed on the weary ballad “Larry Wilkins and the Great Train Derailment of ’66”, the tale of a hometown hero whose life was cut short by a true-life tragedy that left its scars on the local populace for decades to come.
Each of the other offerings follow suit, and there’s not a single song here that doesn’t come across as ultimately affecting, whether it’s an ode to a long-lost love that the singer still laments that he lost (“May To December Girl”) or the solid stomp that beckons the inevitable (“Kingdom Come”). Credit multi-instrumentalist and producer Dave Coleman for providing the punch, particularly manifest in the percolating rhythm of “Dance at the Old Starlight” and the relentless wallop of the title track. Fiddler Tina Simpson and a rhythm section appropriated from Paul Thorn’s band — specifically, bassist Ralph Freidrichsen and drummer Jeffrey Perkins — underscore the intents.
That said, there’s nothing superfluous or pretentious here. These are songs that detail the everyday circumstance that befalls small town folks who simply want to live their lives as best as they can while still looking for the hope that lingers on a distant horizon. Mostly though, it taps unflinching emotions, as expressed in the solitary ballad “Lonely Enough for You to Love” and the unrelenting engagement of “Her Love’s Like Novocaine”, the latter being a classic tale of what happens when two people try to narrow the divide that results from lives spent on opposite sides of the tracks.
In that regard, Hill’s also The Everyman, trying to make his way through life, often stumbling but still driven by desire. In that regard, this Thousand Watt Town boasts electricity to spare. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Ned Hill Band from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Ned Hill Band website
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