Bob Hillman

Welcome to My Century

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Despite its imperfections and shortcomings, Bob Hillman's first album, Playing God, was a promising debut. That 1999 release meandered at times, and Hillman demonstrated that he could be overly self-indulgent. But overall, Playing God showed Hillman to be an interesting, clever storyteller. And the New York-based folk-rocker (originally from California) lives up to that CD's promise on his second album, Welcome to My Century; in fact, this disc is slightly more consistent than its predecessor. Like before, Hillman sings in a deadpan vocal style and brings a dry sense of humor to the table -- so dry that some listeners may not realize just how clever and insightful a lyricist he can be. But Hillman's lyrics have a lot of meat on their bones. "Games" finds Hillman examining his own securities, while "Too Bad for You" has a good laugh at the expense of an ex-lover who is full of herself. And perhaps that ex-lover is the woman who Hillman is singing about on "Greenland," which describes that country's geography and icy climate and concludes that she is "twice as cold." But the CD's standpoint track is the brilliant "Bolted Down." This tune is about life in Hillman's adopted home of New York, a city that has been both praised and bashed (mostly praised) by songwriters -- the not-so-favorable odes to the Big Apple have ranged from Buck Owens' "I Wouldn't Live in New York City (If They Gave Me the Whole Dang Town)" to Fear's "New York's Alright if You Like Saxophones." Well, "Bolted Down" neither praises nor bashes New York; the song lampoons the neurotic, paranoid tendencies of some Big Apple residents but still gives the impression that Hillman generally likes his adopted home despite its problems. Overall, Hillman's sense of humor serves him well on this memorable sophomore effort.

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