An album that’s most definitely born on the bayou.
Bayou St. John is one of New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhoods and this album is very much inspired by this part of the Big Easy. Gregg Hill moved there five years ago. Each songs references or is infused by the Louisianan city. It’s clear that the relaxed atmosphere of the place has rubbed off on Hill with the whole record having a laid-back delivery similar in nature, but not sound, to greats like John Prine or Guy Clark. Hill recruited two of the city’s finest players, bassist/vocalist Roland Guerin and drummer Doug Belotte, as the rhythm section for the album, meaning that the level of musicianship is high.
‘Places In Between‘ opens the eight-track album with a bright acoustic guitar and a solid bass. It provides slithers of insight into domesticity, Hill’s vocal complemented by Joy Clark. ‘New Orleans Again‘ is a reflection on how much Hill misses the city when he’s away. ‘Oh-Dee-Aye‘ is a jaunty tune featuring backing vocals by Hill’s daughter Jesse, who also sang on his debut release.
The ¾ time ‘One Minute Song‘ does exactly what it says in the title, clocking in at exactly 60 seconds. It’s followed by ‘Magnolia Bridge‘ which is a sparkling instrumental, named after a recently restored, hand-cranked swivel bridge constructed in the late 1800s when Bayou St. John was still in use as a commercial waterway. Hill’s finger-picking is to the fore. ‘Big Blue Moon‘ shuffles along nicely as Hill declares his love for someone.
The album ends on with a couple of nostalgic songs. ‘Pooh Nanny‘ is an ode to Hill’s faithful hound who’s now well past the first flush of youth. It recalls his dog ‘running wild, panting smiles‘. ‘Old Like Me‘ is about Hill’s battered guitar ‘cracked from the cold, split in the heat‘ with ‘rusty strings‘, which if it’s the one he’s playing on the song, sounds like a mighty fine instrument.
Hill has produced an album that reflects the easygoing nature of where he lives, so if you fancy relaxing by the Mississippi but can’t get there, take a listen to this.