The Wilder Blue – Hill Country

Album Review | Hill Country | Review by Liam Wilkinson

After the first spin of The Wilder Blue’s Hill Country, I refused to believe that this was the band’s debut album.  Indeed, I found myself staring at the CD player with the expression of a man who was being played for a fool.  Surely, I’d heard this record before.

The truth is that these twelve delicious slices of Americana are brand new and this Texas-based quintet is a force to be reckoned with. Of course, the reason why these songs sound so familiar is that Zane Williams, the band’s front man and songwriter, has clearly spent the last four decades steeped in country music and southern rock.  Just listen to the album’s opener “River Roll”, with its nods to Lynyrd Skynyrd, James Taylor, The Allman Brothers and Stephen Stills.  This is music with a big old family tree and the roots are clearly showing.

“Palomino Gold” shimmers like a Wim Wenders film, “Evergreen” introduces a welcome bit of bluegrass to the sprawling record whilst “Adios” takes us to the Mexican border for a painterly song which owes much to the likes of Tom Russell, Guy Clark and Peter Rowan.  There’s also an achingly beautiful country waltz entitled “The Last Dance” which would have been a lovely inclusion at my wedding all those years ago.  Maybe I should get married again.