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Byron Hill

Gravity...and other things that keep you down to Earth – 1999 (BHP)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Byron Hill

Nashville songwriter Byron Hill once said he "wanted to write songs that were commercial." He succeeded. The likes of George Jones, Sammy Kershaw, Tracy Byrd, Trace Adkins, Kenny Rogers and other big names have recorded Hill's tunes. His latest effort is an album of originals backed by a solid group of country and bluegrass musicians.

The first song, "After You1re Gone," is also the album's finest. Delivered with thoughtful dispassion, Hill's lyrics are complemented by a spare guitar and understated bass slaps. Songs like "Trail of String" and "Love's in the Here and Now" are jazz-like, featuring a wistful harmonica solo and sweet fiddle backup, respectively.

Hill excels at a kind of lyrical enjambment that causes songs to become entangled in one's mind, which isn't so bad with a tune like "Gravity," but which can become downright annoying with lyrically sentimental pieces like "Plan B" and "Thanks for the G Chord" - the latter being the kind of overtly commercial fare that emerges in souped-up form from Nashville recording assembly lines. Compared to the calculated catchchiness of some of the lyrics and the ease with which the musicians play, Hill's voice is probably the least sophisticated component of the album. Yet it is also one of the most enjoyable. (BHP Recordings, P.O. Box 120603, Nashville, TN, 37212, E-Mail: Bhmusicinfo@aol.com,, Byron Hill)