Chris Hillman

The Other Side

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Despite his long standing as one of the pioneering figures in country-rock thanks to his work with the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Manassas, Chris Hillman's recordings from the 1990s have made it clear that what he loves best is kicking back with a fine bluegrass band (usually featuring his buddy Herb Pedersen) and picking his guitar or mandolin on a stack of songs in the classic manner. That's certainly the formula on The Other Side, which Hillman described as an album of "songs to soothe and uplift the soul," and while it's hard to say where the opening acoustic cover of "Eight Miles High" fits into this template, most of the tunes are new Chris Hillman/Steve Hill compositions that in a gentle but straightforward manner deal with matters of faith. Hillman's take on bluegrass-gospel speaks of the fact this is a genre he's long been comfortable with, and there's a graceful give and take between the casual and the passionate on these sessions, in which the players take their picking and their message very seriously while staying in a comfortable, easygoing groove throughout. The Other Side is a quietly joyous collection of bluegrass-gospel tunes with occasional detours into matters of the heart, and if neither Hillman nor his bandmates work up much a hard sweat on these recordings, that's not to say they're not giving their all in their own low-key way, and this is truly back porch music at its most inspiring.

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