Song of the Day, June 18: The Hill by James Walbourne

WalbourneHillToday’s song is a bittersweet tribute to a talented musician’s home. James Walbourne was born and raised in the Muswell Hill area of London. He developed a fondness for American roots music and gained a reputation as a talented guitarist. After years of session work and part-time membership in a couple of bands — including Son Volt — he recorded his solo debut.

Titled The Hill as a nod to his origins, the disc is a brilliant mix of British folk ideas and fractured love songs filtered through the Americana he mastered so skillfully. The title track is a standout. Touching on the rich history of Muswell Hill, Walbourne looks at urban decay and gentrification and finds it hard to say which is harder for the residents to survive.

Walbourne assembled a solid band to back him up — including veteran drummer Jim Keltner, Ivan Neville on keyboards, and his brother Robert on a variety of instruments —  and they support his smart, sometimes fiery guitar work nicely. He also turns in a fine vocal, capturing all the nuance of his mixed feelings. “The Hill’s getting worse than it used to be,” he observes. With wry wit, he shows clear-eyed fondness as he ponders the Hill’s future and how it might connect with his own.

Enjoy this wonderful song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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