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Friday, November 18, 2011

Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys - Another Lost Highway

Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys - Another Lost Highway
2011, Arty Hill

Arty Hill is well-known in songwriting circles, with songs of his recorded by the likes of Jason & The Scorchers, the Kenny and Amanda Smith Band, Marti Brom and the Sapphires, but Hill is a pure performer as well. Drawing crowds from his home base in Baltimore to Austin, Texas, Hill takes honky-tonk country to a new level. This transcendence is abundantly clear on the latest effort from Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys, Another Lost Highway.

Another Lost Highway soars, and the reason becomes apparent in the opening track. Hill explores the pure joy of music in "Roll Me A Song", blending rockabilly, blues and the sort of exuberant pick work usually reserved for bluegrass circles. "Roll Me A Song" isn't just a song, but a mission statement that describes what is to come. "Mae Dawn" is a love song to a call girl, full of the hope and tragedy that seems like it should be cliché but somehow is not. Hill recounts time in detox in "Omaha ICU", wrapping a nifty arrangement around a harsh subject painted in subtle undertones. Hill gets back to a love of music on "King Of That Thing", an ode to a pedal steel man. The six-string guitar work here is so subtle and refined you'd think that Hill was channeling Chet Atkins.

"Another Lost Highway" is a classic-style country trucker's lament. Hill has constructed a wonderful melody here, and a joyously feckless violin dances and fills the counter-melody. Rock and country blend on "Big Drops Of Trouble", featuring, once again, some seriously notable guitar work. Hill puts on something of a clinic here, and the guitar players out there will be dissecting the song for hours. Hill actively works to nullify heartbreak on "12 Pack Morning", in a classic bit of country pique, before moving into "Halfway House". This is a great tune that bears the essence of Johnny Cash. An entertaining number, Hill again reminds listener of how good he is with a six-string in his hand.
"Breaking-Up Party" is a solid bit if blue country with a healthy dose of optimism woven inside.

Infidelity is the subject of "Victoria's Secret Is Safe With Me", a solid story song that's perhaps a bit trite, but nonetheless entertaining. "Blackwater Wildlife" is a danceable honky-tonk party that breaks out into fits of raucous rockabilly. You won't be able to get this one out of your head. Another Lost Highway closes with "The Last Time I'll Ever Go Away", a sad tale about a travelling man who gains the road but loses his family in the process. When push comes to shove, he realizes that what he's losing isn't worth what he's gained, and in an unlikely turn in country music, he gets a second chance. This positive lift at the end is perfect closure for an album that turns expectations on their heads.

Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys hit new heights on Another Lost Highway. Rather than an apex, however, the album suggests a band continuing to rise. Hill is a masterful songwriter and storyteller, and he is surrounded by first class musicians. Another Lost Highway was checked along the way by illness, death of a band member and arguments with Hill's former record label, but you'd never know it from the end product. Another Lost Highway is utterly brilliant.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

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1 comment:

Andy Hawk said...

Bought this on your recommendation. I'd never heard of him before. I always say to give something 4 listens before you pass judgment. Well, four listens in the can and...nicely done! This is a well-recorded and well-written batch of tunes. I like his voice, too. Old-school country sounding, which is a good thing. Without blogs like this, independent artists would have fewer ways of reaching new people. Great job, Arty! From Andy Hawk & The Train Wreck Endings:) ...and thanks for what you do, Wildy!