“Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! Oh my sweet, sweet Eloise”: T.W. Hill’s Debut, SINS & HYMNS, Demands Attention
I was recently asked to write the liner notes for T.W. Hill’s debut solo album, SINS & HYMNS. Well, there’s a lot to say about these songs, so I tried to get it all down in these few words, which I poured over, tore up, lit on fire twice, and tossed out the seventh story window. It gets hard to write about things you really like. This album is drenched in so many different veins of the American songbook that you can’t really call it electric boogie or piano blues or rock and roll or anything like that. Its all of that, but its none of that either. This risk-taking and exploration, the signs of good art, extend beyond the music into the themes the songs engage. The beautiful mess of love and loss. As in the quote above, “Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Oh my sweet, sweet Eloise.” In one line, this man can move from religious outcry into that all-too-human mixture of lust, love, and loneliness. About as musically diverse and lyrically subtle as they come, I’d wager that SINS AND HYMNS announces the beginning of T.W. Hill’s long and rich career as an established musician, songwriter, and performer. The album is available for free streaming AND download here. For more information on the legend of T.W. Hill and his music, click here.
Above–stream “1st of November” from SINS & HYMNS
Thoughts on T.W. Hill’s Sins and Hymns
Sins and hymns are words for leaving and coming home again. The tension of wanting to be where you can’t–like feeling old before you were born and realizing that one day you won’t be alive anymore. And then when you try to sleep all you can think about is getting the hell outta where you are to start all over again.
These songs come outta some blues band in a back-alley club, but they also sound like the callous voices of some country church I saw once. The music comes outta the smoky bar on the Southside of some brick-built and broken-down steel mill town, where men are laughing, playing pool and drinking too much beer. And sometimes these songs will take you down the sunny cement boardwalks past the big white movie houses. And then you wake up sweating, in a rotting shack from the smell of sex floating around making the room spin. So you call for one more shot to tie everything back down again.
I don’t know what kind of life they’re going to have. I don’t know who will be glad they found these songs, or who I should pity for missing them. But I know what I’ll listen to now when I don’t want to find my way back to the ground; or for relief from the quietness of Sunday afternoons; or on the front porch when the sun’s going down. And when I’m stumbling by a muddy river, I’ll sing them to remind myself I’ve always been wandering my way back home, wherever the hell that is.
Eugene, OR. Spring 2011.
Originally published on T.W. Hill’s SINS & HYMNS page
and also on American cultural studies blog, A Missing America: