Ned Hill – Thousand Watt Town
This set gets off to a rush-hour start with “Gotta Get Out of This Town.” Singer-songwriter Ned Hill unleashes his chiming Tom Petty-styled repertoire & does it with gusto, purity & dazzle. His voice resounds with every word he sings – it’s not just a song to sing, Ned sounds like he’s been there, done that & lived it. And that’s what great songwriting & performances are about. The earthy addition of violin is what skewered the melody tightly & keeps it a safe distance from an entirely measured Petty-type song. Ned Hill has his originality finely sharpened.
“Kingdom Come,” is superb almost in a J.J. Cale fashion but this one is Ned performing Ned. Oh, there are gentle hues of influences spread out over the plate but when all is said & done the recipe is pure Hill. Love it! Serve more.
The 9-track Thousand Watt Town (Drops Nov 10-Independent/33:00) was produced by Dave Coleman (electric & acoustic guitar/piano/organ/accordion/standup bass/bgv) & recorded in Nashville, TN.
Ned Hill has shaped each tune with precision in a steady modest style that’s appealing throughout the CD. Hill’s material covers many topics such as corporate greed, the drug crisis, the climate, train derailments, being in love, having dreams of escape & good times in the shadow of the ruins of small-town America.
The skill Ned Hill has with his finely tailored tunes is the ability to bring these issues to our ears with lovely melodies, measured words & an attractive way of making it all listenable. Hill is an older singer-songwriter, so he sees things a little more wisely than many songwriters. He doesn’t sing with anger, radicalism, or bitterness.
Hill also performs with his ball cap, old T–shirt & jeans – the new era’s Woody Guthrie. A native of Kentucky, Ned has played for 35 years. This is a new phase since he’s more troubadour than front man & this apparently suits him. He calls this new CD a straight R&R record, but it has lots of rootsy filaments, folky elements, classy country ballads & blue denim Americana. If I had to pigeonhole Hill it would be that he’s the missing link between Steve Earle & Tom Petty.
The title track is set in a traditional Byrds fashion. Someday Roger McGuinn may play his Rickenbacker on this live with Ned. Ned makes it sound like this is what The Byrds would be if they made it to 2023. It’s a superb song with a Tom Petty band chorus dazzle. An exciting performance.
Highlights – “Gotta Get Out of This Town,” “Kingdom Come,” “Dance At The Old Starlight,” “Larry Wilkins & the Great Train Derailment Of ’66,” “Thousand Watt Town,” “Lonely Enough For You To Love” & “Her Love’s Like Novocaine.”
Musicians – Ned (vocals/acoustic guitar), Tina Simpson (violin/bgv), Ralph Friedrichsen (bass/bgv) & Jeffrey Perkins (drums/percussion/bgv).
Color image courtesy of Scott Willis. CD @ https://www.nedhillmusic.com/
Check out our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Ned Hill “Take Me Out of This World”