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KEITH HILLS "Recovery" Fellside FECD128

It was back in '93 that "Making A Million" was released by the Ragtime Millionaires of Fellside, and it was a CD that benefited from the acoustic guitar and songwriting skills of Keith Hills. On their second recording Keith took on the additional roles of recording engineer and co-producer, plus additional guitar and backing vocals! Here we have his debut album as a soloist, with all compositions, save one, being his own work.

Hills is an outstandingly skilled musician, with an enviable depth and spread of understanding of the acoustic guitar, and this is demonstrated throughout the album. He's been around the folk scene since the early seventies, based in Cornwall but travelling extensively in both the UK and Europe. His style and technique has been cultivated and refined and this is allied with a very personal and focused lyrical content based around his family and friends, giving an end result which is essentially introspective, but which I found to be immediately familiar and comfortable.

The guitar technique is clear, bright, ringing and very tasty - somehow very much of an era, and I suppose that's part of the attraction of the album for me. His voice and singing style, redolent of Dylan, are also relaxed and comfortable, with the overall effect engendering a fondness for a period I knew well and which Keith Hills successfully encapsulates with this distinctive music and style. Realistically it is most likely to be appreciated by people of, how can I say, a certain age, but I don't have a problem with that! It isn't new, it isn't innovative, more gently nostalgic - it is reassuringly very familiar, very relaxing, and something of an indulgence.

Mel Howley

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.