There has been some great new music coming from the Canadian scene in recent months, and here at the magazine, we were thrilled with our talk with Canadian blues mistress Diana Panton last month. Also from the blues scene comes Steve Hill, an established artist with three decades of performances behind him, since playing the bar circuit at the age of 16. Steve has played concertos with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, won enough Blues Awards to fill a bathtub, and walked the boards of too many stages to count throughout his 30-year career, When you stop and start listening to his music, you know you’re listening to the real deal. He turned pro at age 18 when he joined the Bob Harrison Blues Band. He left after two years to pursue a solo career, since 2012, he has been a one man band, and a new album release from him is always something special (his first album was released in 1997).
“Dear Illusion” is released on November 11th, keenly awaited by the blues community on both sides of the Atlantic and I was pleased to get my hands on it for a listen!
“All about the Love” is the album opener, and it gets us straight in the groove. I would say that it may be blues, but it is blues with rocks in it! Interesting horn sections add to the mean guitar. On the subject of horns, although I noted Steve has been a one man band for a while now, on “Dear Illusion,” the multi-instrumentalist
shares the spotlight with a horn section, The Devil Horns, as well as 7-time UK Blues Awards Drummer of the Year, Wayne Proctor (A.A. Williams, Oli Brown, King King, Ben Poole). Proctor also mixed and mastered the upcoming record.
The second track up is “Keep It Together,” which kicks off with a harmonica intro that almost takes us into country territory. It moves at a pace, and I believe it was written on the harmonica, which is interesting. There can’t be that many songs written around the harmonica now.
Next up is “Everything You Got” which you can hear yourself on the link below. Chosen as the single it is a track packed full of positive energy, all about getting up and hitting the world with 100% of whatever you do. Steve said about the album as a whole,
“Overall, I feel like the album is telling that no matter what happens, you should
give it everything you got and move on, be the best person you can be, and no matter what, the
sun will rise again. Don’t dwell on suffering, and don’t forget about it, either. Even treat
misfortune as a friend, slap it on the back and say, Thanks for teaching me.”
We switch next to the ballad of “Dear Illusion.” This is a sad blues number where love is an illusion, trust becomes destroyed and people are often not what we think (or hope) they are; they just let us down. It’s a personal number, slow time blues.
“Steal the Light from You,” has an instant commercial feel, its radio friendly and has a solid chorus hook. Steve comments on this one saying “
“It was written when I came back from California in 2016 and started out as an acoustic number that was supposed to go with the rest of the songs that became the album that came out last, Desert Trip. Recorded many aborted versions through the years until this one. It has a different feel from what Iʼm used to do and
a cool retro vibe.”
The album has been on the burner for a while apparently.
“I had a version finished right before the pandemic started,” says Steve. “It was slated for release
in April 2020. There was no point in releasing it then, so I decided to wait. The sad context of the
pandemic resulted in additional time for me to offer my fans the album I’m sure will meet their
expectations for my 25th anniversary as a recording artist. I am proud of the work. Ultimately,
the results that we collectively achieved with the album, ended up reflecting both maturity and
This is shown in the album, and my personal favourite is up next. “Don’t Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Story” is an absolute blast. It is confident, full of bite and connects us to the sad state of social media and their news reporting. I really liked this one !
“Follow your Heart” is next along. It has a nice swing to it, helped by the drum sound that underpin some great vocals from Steve on this one.
“So it Goes” is a very intimate track. This one takes me back to the days when you could smoke in bars. It belongs in a small smoke filled room with a whiskey, a small blues place where you go for a drink and a few moments lost in music.
“She Gives Lessons in the Blues” is back on more familiar territory. It was funky blues and I liked it. Again, I enjoyed the horn section and the traditional dry style vocal blues delivery.
The album closer is “Until the Next time.” It is a smooth ending that will have them swaying along to the beat. Steve says this one was written on the piano.
“I don’t often write on piano, but it always sounds a bit different from when I do it on guitar. I’m incredibly happy with how this one turned out. Harmonically different, even though it’s still just a variation of the old I-IV-V and I like that. I love finding new ways to play the same old chords! Different guitar sounds on this one too, as I’m using a guitar with an integrated preamp, a copy of Jerry Garciaʼs Tiger guitar.”
And there it is, a solid, imaginative album that shows Steve at the top of his game, and I will say again – that horn section kills!
By Lorraine Foley.
ALBUM TRACK LIST
01 – All About The Love (3:53)
02 – Keep It Together (4:11)
03 – Everything You Got (3:22)
04 – Dear Illusion (4:15)
05 – Steal The Light From You (4:09)
06 – Don’t Let The Truth Get In The Way (Of A Good Story) (5:03)
07 – Follow Your Heart (3:22)
08 – So It Goes (2:49)
09 – She Gives Lessons In Blues (3:51)
10 – Until The Next Time (3:04)