J. Riley Hill has a timeless sound. The Canadian singer/songwriter sits contently between classic-rock elegance and contemporary folk fusion. If listeners were told that his excellent track “Alone” was a lost freak-folk jam from the ’60s, there wouldn’t be much questioning. Alas, “Alone” is the opening track on an album released just a year ago. The eponymous release from J. Riley Hill marked a new creative phase for the talented songwriter. “My new release marks a change in my attitude towards music and albums in generally, where previously I would release weird stream-of-conscious all-over-the-place music on a bi-monthly basis.” “I took two years to construct an orchestrated complex pop album,” he continues, “and I wanted to make something that really was pleasant to listen too and felt cohesive throughout, and I feel really proud of the way it worked out.”
What’s impressive in addition to Hill’s hook-filled and polished songwriting is that he played every instrument on his eponymous album. On a track like “Fio”, where a funky rhythm section collides with spacey guitars and synth trickles, this fact is especially jaw-dropping. This guy really has a lot going for him in both the songwriting and instrumentation departments. While not as ambitious scope, the opening track “Alone” is more immediately engaging, from the moment the energetic brass kicks in (they remind me of football season, for whatever reason) until Hill’s last suavely-sung word. Albums like J. Riley Hill aren’t released often… specifically, albums from obscure artists with such a grasp of both songwriting and instrumentation that it’s dizzying to wonder why he hasn’t been discovered yet. Hill clearly has plenty of experience under his belt; he has been releasing, producing, and promoting his own music for the last ten years or so. The passion and knowledge is surely paying off.
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