James Hill - The Old Silo
Released September 16, 2014
By Charlie Dims
It probably doesn’t need to be said that the ukulele is not as well-respected of an instrument as it should be. On the surface, this is understandable. A ukulele is a small thing. It doesn’t have the length or sonic strength of an electric guitar and it doesn’t have as many strings as a full guitar. Some, therefore, may view it as a beginner instrument, something you pick up before you move on to a more proper instrument. However, when put into the right hands, the ukulele can be magical.
Musician James Hill proves this much on his new LP The Old Silo. Taking advantage of the laidback sound that the ukulele is known for, Hill crafts songs about love and heartbreak with a viewpoint that manages to be both realistic and hopeful. Not quite country, not quite whip-your-hair rock, The Old Silo features lyrics that speak of an older time, but without sounding out of place in the 2014 musical landscape.
On songs like Gold Digger, Hill writes about someone who always seems to be seeking to gain from someone else, but turns it into something like a sweet love song. She’s Still Got It is halfway between a throwback 60s group song and a rock song - which makes sense, considering that Hill seems to be both pleased and regretful that the song’s subject has got him “wrapped around her little baby finger.” Love isn’t all bad though. I’ll Never Know is Hill at his softest, his voice occasionally rising up to a sweet falsetto, as he revels that he has found the special one. For So Long, the final track, starts with the great line “hope can lead us/and deceive us.” And, in many ways, this could be considered a major take away from The Old Silo. It’s an album about all of the difficulties and confusions and moments of wonder that come from trying to find someone we wish to share our life with. Luckily for us, James Hill is here to document it all.