Sensitive, introspective singer/songwriters came to be considered a joke largely because of artists like Dan Hill. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a quavering voice, Hill earnestly digs down deep in his heart, letting the feelings flow on the page, never once dressing his words with such bothersome frivolities as metaphors. His songs are literal, directly addressing his emotions in the moment -- something he must have realized, because on his second album, Hold On, he provides the locations and dates that each of the ten songs were written ("Canada" was written in Edmonton in October 1975; "All Alone in California" was written in January 1976 in Los Angeles). This specificity makes listening to Hold On feel like reading a journal, complete with the unsettling awkwardness that eavesdropping can occasionally bring. Hill's songs are written like journal entries, too, with the music acting as a backdrop to the melodies that are vehicles for the words. In other words, not many hooks here. Producers Matthew McCauley and Fred Mollin manage to offer some window dressing with strings, electric pianos, and guitars from some studio pros, which manages to keep the album moving, even if it doesn't really help individual songs catch hold. All this doesn't make Hold On especially compelling, even if it is interesting as an artifact of its time, since while there are better singer/songwriter albums to be sure, this illustrates why some critics had turned on the style by the late '70s. Ironically, Hold On is a better, more varied album than its successor, Longer Fuse, which brought Hill a hit with "Sometimes When We Touch."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine