The Other Side
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2005, Volume 12, #6
Written by John Metzger
Throughout his career, Chris Hillman quietly has skipped from The Byrds to The Flying Burrito Brothers to Manassas, though frequently he has remained caught within the shadow of his collaborators, namely Roger McGuinn, Gram Parsons, and Stephen Stills. Even the commercial success of his own Desert Rose Band has done little to elevate his personal profile. Still, with all his disparate pursuits ó from psychedelic-folk to Latin-infused rock ó itís traditional country and bluegrass to which he typically has returned. On his latest effort The Other Side, Hillman reunites with multi-instrumentalist Herb Petersen, and along with the help of guitarist Larry Park, dobro player Sally Van Meter, fiddler Gabe Witcher, and bass player Bill Bryson, he presents an unassuming and impeccable 14-song suite that concisely summarizes the bucolic back roads of his lifeís work. On the opening re-visitation of Eight Miles High, for example, he swaps The Byrdsí jangly, biting 12-string guitar for the more laid-back ornamentation of fiddle and dobro, but the end result is equally far-reaching and cosmic. Elsewhere, he effortlessly leads his charge through the rapturous bluegrass of Heaven Is My Home, delivers The Wheel as if itís an hold-out from Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and crafts an enthralling duet with Jennifer Warnes on a pensive interpretation of The Water Is Wide. Strictly speaking, thereís nothing on the album that hasnít been done a thousand times before, but rarely is the music executed in as captivatingly organic a fashion as Hillman accomplishes on The Other Side.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box