Shadowlight – Forrest Hill (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

d4d011ad-b521-439e-8cf8-16853e522d84If Still Crazy Over You gave us a teasing glimpse into Forrest Hill’s deft musical world, this full album proves to be the wonderful experience that the single hinted at. There is an inherent groove that runs through the songs, most obvious in upbeat numbers such as the politically charged Cold Rain’s Coming and the slow, sassy and sultry blues of Anything Can Happen. But even numbers such as the elegant and minimal Birds Fly To Heaven are pinned down with brooding, majestic cellos and the reflective and windswept Great Divide runs on a gentle beat and dexterous melody.

Forrest Hill proves to be one of those songwriters made in the classic mould, part pop infectiousness, part singer-songwriter intimacy, part 60’s folk revivalist, part…anything he choses to turn his hand too really. In the same what that the likes of Neil Young and Paul Simon (I know I made this connection last time around but I think it really explains what’s going on here) seemed to be bigger than any genre you try to fit them in, so Forrest Hill has that same chameleon-like quality.

This is not so much genre-hopping as genre-melding and the album works so well because of its consistency. Rather than offering a string of songs which fit in and flit through various musical styles, the songs instead to sit in common ground between them.There is rock assuredness, pop accessibility, blues deftness and a whole heap of soulfulness and passion at their heart. The musical ingredients don’t change, just the quantities used and it is this which creates the classic sound.

The fact that Forrest Hill has managed to not only capture all of that on this album but present a suite of songs which passes the ear like a career spanning retrospective or best of collection only makes you wonder what the hell is he going to do next! Whatever it is I’m pretty sure eyebrows will be raised…in a good way…ears will be grateful and arguments to the effect of “they don’t write songs like they used to” will have to quietly go and rethink its thrust.

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