Dan Hill

Longer Fuse

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Dan Hill finally hit the big time with his third record, Longer Fuse, scoring a number three hit with "Sometimes When We Touch." A painfully earnest love song, Hill sounds pained when admits that "Sometimes when we touch/The honesty's too much" -- which fits, because sometimes when Hill sings, the honesty's too much. For such a sweet, mellow singer, it's rather shocking that his words are so bluntly candid in their confessionals and as artfully rendered as musings in a diary. Here, he tempers the journal-like tendencies of Hold On, but there are moments that are startling in their forthright honesty, as when "McCarthy's Day" kicks in and you realize that he's talking about his interracial parents on the run during the days of blacklisting. Also, the songs on Longer Fuse hit harder because the production is scaled back, sounding like it's nothing but his voice and guitar even when other instruments are present on every track. Where some singer/songwriters would excel in this stripped, bare setting, there's too much specificity in the words and not enough form in the music to have this stand steadily on its own legs. At times, it's fascinating to hear Hill's earnest voice sing such soul-baring lyrics -- it's the equivalent of hearing a journal read aloud -- but the album as a whole doesn't follow through on "Sometimes When We Touch," lacking that sentimental soft rock classic's sense of melody and sweetness. Compared to the rest of the record, it seems restrained, which explains a lot about why Longer Fuse doesn't quite work.

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