Album Reviews

Chris Hillman

Bidin’ My Time

Artist:     Chris Hillman

Album:     Bidin’ My Time

Label:     Rounder

Release Date:     09.22.2017

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“The times, they are a-changin’,” and “To everything, there is a season.” Fundamental aspects of life by Bob Dylan, and from the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes. Phrases that ring of truth more so now than when Chris Hillman recorded them in song with the Byrds over a half-century ago. For Hillman, musical change was subtle. With a background in bluegrass since his teens, he became one of the designers of the entire country-rock realm with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Afterwards, country and bluegrass, and brief flights again with the Byrds occupied his time. Hillman’s seasons, and his undiminished vitality, sparkle all together on the appropriately-titled Bidin’ My Time, the album he was clearly destined to make.

Produced by Tom Petty, it features beautiful songs, and shimmering performances by a stellar array of players. Among them are Petty and fellow Heartbreakers Mike Campbell on guitar, ace pianist Benmont Tench, and drummer Steve Ferrone; Hillman’s Desert Rose Band alumni John Jorgenson and Jay Dee Maness on guitars, and Herb Pedersen on guitars and in stunning voice; and Byrds mates Roger McGuinn on guitar, and David Crosby singing rich, youthful harmonies. Every song recalls a time, but also signals an artist relishing his place in the here and now. One instantly takes to heart the words Hillman sings in his brand-new “Such is the World We Live In.” While the song paints a picture of a chaotic America, it does so eloquently with hope, and with front porch fiddlin’ joy to boot. “Bells of Rhymney” chimes in to start the album, a delightful reprise of the Pete Seeger tune from the first Byrds album. Crosby’s tenor soars in it, following Hillman’s equally heartfelt lead.

In all, four Byrds numbers are given new life, the most dramatic being “Here She Comes Again,” a McGuinn-Hillman power pop ballad that features McGuinn recreating his 12-string Rickenbacker signature. But the most iridescent of all the gems in this bounty full of them is the saunter through the Everly Brothers’ “Walk Right Back,” Hillman and Pedersen harmonizing amid an absolutely irresistible melody. A cover of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” ends the album with lovely images of frolicking freely.

Hillman said about the recording of this album, “I did my very best.” Indeed he did.

—Tom Clarke

 

 

 

 

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