Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Cliff Hillis “Dream Good”

Power pop/Singer-songwriter

It was a pretty lousy day, but lucky for me the new Cliff Hillis CD had arrived. Just seconds into the opening track, “Keep The Blue Skies”, I could feel my spirits lifting and my mind putting things back in proper perspective. The new record, “Dream Good” radiates cautious optimism and may be among Cliff’s most inspired works to date. “Keep The Blue Skies” has rapidly become my favorite Hillis song in his entire catalogue.

“Dream Good” takes its name from one of Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions from 1943 and sets the tone for the uplifting messages imbuing the dozen song set. Hillis recruited an exceptional team to contribute to the dream, including Scot Sax (Wanderlust), who co-wrote the snappy “When You’re Listening” and contemplative “Welcome To You”, and Danny Wilde (The Rembrandts), who co-wrote “Start Again” and also contributes bass, guitar, and vocals to the album. Philip Price of The Winterpills co-wrote the brilliant opener I raved about above. The record was mixed by noted pop producer Brad Jones (Marshall Crenshaw, Jill Sobule, Matthew Sweet).

Other highlights include the acoustic-based song of encouragement, “Sing It Once Again”, the feisty rocker “Twin Sisters”, and the mellow title track that reminds us to take our chances. There is also a song contemplating the nature of faith called “What’s Your Name” worth a spin or three. By now you should realize this record is the product of a seasoned musician who has mastered the art of songwriting in such a way that keeps his intelligent lyrics memorable. I know I say it with each new release, but this is my new favorite Cliff Hillis record.

If you enjoy Glen Phillips, David Mead, or The Rembrandts, be sure to get this one.

Cliff Hillis – Official site.

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