Gregg Hill – Bayou St. John
This comes with a nice John Prine-Guy Clark feeling lyrically & musically. Hill’s vocal is gentle & disciplined with 8 tracks from his 6th CD. Produced by Greg (vocals/guitars/piano) & Roland Guerin (bass/vocals) on Bayou St. John (Drops Sept 15–Skippy Records) features fine work by Doug Belote (drums), Joy Clark, Lynn Drury & Jesse Hill (vocals) & it was all recorded in Louisiana. The subjects are about life on the bayou in New Orleans. Written according to Mr. Hill late at night or in the early morning hours.
Some reviews will concern themselves with the music, performance & production but what strikes me so positively about Gregg’s effort on “Bayou St. John” is the excellent storytelling he has married up to his arrangements. The songs grab the ears because something is being said that is clever & relatable.
On the silly titled “Oh-Dee-Aye,” (“oh, yes!” definition) the magic is in the cheerful singing & the New Orleans upbeat piano playing. Actually, mindful of the fun melodies the late Jimmy Buffett once applied to so many of his wonderful songs. The title is also reminiscent of a great obscure song from 1969 by St. Steven called “Aye-Aye-Poe-Day,” an LP that also hides a beautiful melodic ballad called “Louisiana Home.” So, St. Steven may also be from that area.
Sometimes it’s not about writing deep, serious songs or making a statement. It’s about making someone feel good listening to you. Wanting one to share the joy & wonder how you acquired it. Gregg Hill doesn’t sound like John Prine or Guy Clark he just taps into the same inspirational well. Once the lyric reaches his voice it becomes a Gregg Hill experience. But just imagining that you share the same musical ghosts of Prine & Clark is reverential enough for me.
Hill in some ways is also an old soul because he taps into melodic structures that are vintage (“Big Blue Moon”). I wonder if he listened to the late Leon Redbone who must have also listened to some timely tunes from another era. Redbone with his distinctive vocals would have sounded great covering this Gregg Hill tune.
Again, it’s not about trying to impress a listener with fiery lead guitar solos & drum solos but trying to reach a place few singers manage to excavate. Just lay back in a hammock & sing along. Gregg Hill achieves this with every one of his songs & none sound silly.
Highlights – “Places In Between,” “New Orleans Again,” “Oh-Dee-Aye,” “Magnolia Bridge,” “Big Blue Moon”
Color image courtesy of Gregg’s website gallery. The 27-minute CD @ https://gregghill.com
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Gregg Hill “Places in Between”