Album Reviews

Adam Hill: Them Dirty Roads [Album Review]

Adam Hill

Adam Hill‘s style of folk always donned the traditional styling so often seen as timeless within the centuries-long timeline the genre encompasses. Them Dirty Roads is, for the most part, no exception. But when the fiddles and acoustic guitar are removed, as found in opening track “Prelude”, something else happens — Hill produces a sound quite unorthodox, featuring a trumpet and static samples. As a prelude, the track works wonders to introduce Hill’s very clear-cut folk.

“Wyoming Skies” emerges with country-influenced vocal patterns, and the lyrics follow suit. It’s a theme that Hill incorporates throughout Them Dirty Roads, one that works just as well with his oft stripped-down backing instrumentation — typically just Hill and an acoustic guitar — as it does when he adds fiddle and soft percussion. It’s not always this way, though. “The River Where She Sleeps” sneaks in a hint of pop, though still minimal with just piano and vocals (and a hint of… is that xylophone?).

What gives Them Dirty Roads depth is the intermissions, those seemingly throwaway tracks like “Prelude”, both “Intermezzo” tracks, and “Coda”. Each bring forth distinctly folk-like sounds, from the static radio-esque tuning at the beginning, to the teakettle whistle. Their placement merely emphasizes the cleanliness of the album’s production.

And as Them Dirty Roads progresses to songs like “Fueled Up” and “State Of Grace”, Hill maintains the simplistic folk but transforms it into that you’d expect from a mid-west tavern dance-floor where the well-to-do farmers take their wives for a little swing. Perhaps where Hill stands out most is in “Golden State”, where he adds female vocal accompaniment, and “Fools Gold”, which features a most welcome piano and cello parts.

So with Them Dirty Roads Hill has created an album that transcends the old-timey tavern and steps aside to let indie snobbery and pretentiousness pass. He’s created a sound that is holistic and rewarding to both parties, so distinctly different from one another — and that’s a major accomplishment!

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Them Dirty Roads by Adam Hill

[CD, 2009]

1. Prelude
2. Angeline The Baker
3. Wyoming Skies
4. High Road
5. Intermezzo I
6. Fueled Up
7. State Of Grace
8. Streetlamps And Stardust
9. Golden State
10. Fools Gold
11. Intermezzo II
12. The River Where She Sleeps
13. Ribbons And Curls
14. Coda

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