Dan Hill

Frozen in the Night

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Having a hit with "Sometimes When We Touch" did wonders for Dan Hill's career, not just because it brought him success, but because that success helped him focus his writing and open up the sonic possibilities of his records. Even on Longer Fuse, the album that gave the world "Sometimes When We Touch," he was still obsessed with literalism, having every song be explicitly about personal matters, presented in unadorned acoustic arrangements. On its sequel, 1978's Frozen in the Night, there are still some remnants of that -- some sparse arrangements, some painfully personal lyrics -- but he's made a giant step away from that aesthetic, writing more open-ended songs and offering a wholly welcome greater variety in the production. Perhaps some of this is down to his collaborating with Barry Mann on half the album; their collaborations have a greater pop sensibility that accentuates the strengths of Hill's music, particularly on "Frozen in the Night" and the single "Let the Song Last Forever." But this new sensibility is apparent on Hill's solo tracks, too. It's not perfect by any means -- he still has the tendency to get lost in lyrical detail to the expense of the overall sound of the song, with too many languid, formless songs -- but this is a big move in the right direction and the best record he had released to date.

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