Cliff Hillis “Dream Good”
Cliff Hillis has done what many power pop artists do after over a decade of solid output, they seamlessly transition to adult contemporary pop. Starting out with the legendary Starbelly, then transitioning to John Faye Power Trip and IKE he drew heavily on the riffs and influences of Matthew Sweet. Once his solo career started with Be Seeing You on Not Lame Records, fans knew what to expect and Cliff has remained a popular artist ever since.
On Dream Good, Hillis continues to show his melodic skills are as sharp as ever on the opener “Keep The Blue Skies” and he still surrounds himself with top notch collaborators like Scot Sax (The Feel), Danny Wilde (The Rembrandts) and Brad Jones. And he hasn’t mellowed that much, as “Ways and Means” packs lots of power into those driving blues riffs. I love the creative “Talking Tree” with its contrasting blend of strings, bass guitar and staccato picked rhythm. The next several songs are along the Fountains of Wayne or Marshall Crenshaw vibe with “When You’re Listening” and “Welcome To You.” More gems include the brilliant “Twin Sisters” and the low key “Just The Same.” Like Mike Viola, Hillis makes each story so compelling you need to listen. Each tune has a refreshing melody line and polished delivery (without filler to be found) that puts this album near my top ten list for 2012.