Chris Hillman “Bidin’ My Time”
Chris Hillman is back with a stunning new album, representing his first solo set after a 12-year hiatus. This album showcases his undiminished talent, which he never received quite enough attention for, and finally places him firmly in the limelight. In recent interviews, he is quoted as saying that he figured the recording part of his career was finished, but this album came about because he simply had some songs that he hadn’t yet recorded. And boy are we glad to have him back in the studio.
The Tom Petty-produced album was released in mid-September 2017 and opens with a familiar tune: a refreshing new version of “The Bells of Rhymney”, which was taken from the Byrd’s 1965 debut “Mr. Tambourine Man”, but it has been transformed into a song that represents fading dreams and deepest wishes; a nostalgia that is heard in every track that follows. Hillman is clearly focusing on his own musical past, expressing his love for music and very easily invoking that feeling in the listener.
His artistic ability shines through as we work our way through a series of tracks in various musical styles but with plenty of examples of the Hillman we all know and love from past decades when he was influenced by bands like the Eagles during his Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers days. “Walk Right Back” has clearly taken influence from The Everly Brothers, with gentle melodies reminiscent of Don and Phil in their prime.
Power pop fans may argue that this is not an album that falls within the genre, and technically, not all of it does. But tracks such as the catchy “Here She Comes Again” make it the essential material for die-hard fans as the backing band create the perfect power pop pacing, and several other tracks push the boundaries of the genre. As a complete package though, it seems to be lacking cohesion as Hillman works his way through so many (possibly too many) genres; the full range that he has experimented with throughout his career, without dwelling on one in particular for too long. Perhaps unless you’re a huge Hillman or Byrds fan (and let’s face it, this is the closest you’re going to get to a reunion) and what you really want is a “best of” album, you might find yourself longing for a singular statement.