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Chris Hillman

Like a Hurricane – 1998 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Madelyn Rosenberg

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CDs by Chris Hillman

Chris Hillman's new album is called "Like a Hurricane," but it comes off more like a summer breeze: pleasant, but not exactly thunder and lightning.

The 12-song CD falls somewhere in between mainstream country and well ... slightly less mainstream country. There are hints of Hillman's bluegrassroots, other hints of a genius past with The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. What's missing, though, is that extra layer of intricacy that can propel music to a new level. As with other Hillman solo albums, the music is personal: stories ofrelationships, feelings and memories that he explains in short notes, someof which read like diary entries. Musically, the songs with more interesting aspects are "Carry Me Home,"with Jerry Douglas' dobro, "Second Wind," with Hillman's mandolin and "I'm Still Alive," with David Crosby's harmony. "When You Walk in the Room," with the familiar twang of the 12-string is a favorite. Less memorable are less complicated songs, like "Sooner or Later" and "Run Again."

Still, there are a number of tunes that seem like they'd be at home oncountry radio - if country radio can find room for an old pro among its deep-voiced, hat-wearing heartthrobs.