“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s the type of approach Tom Feller and Chris Hill took on their sophomore album, Here Comes Feller & Hill… Again!
Following the success of their self-titled debut, Feller & Hill are back, with more of the same. Tom and Chris noticed how many bands will use a successful debut as a springboard to change or re-invent their sound for their second release. They felt it was better to continue making the style of music which made their debut album a hit, and has made them an in-demand bluegrass band at bluegrass festivals across the country.
Combining their love of bluegrass and classic country, Feller & Hill fall somewhere between The Boys From Indiana and Buck Owens & The Buckaroos. That’s no exaggeration. The album kicks off with Hey Baby, a rare Boys From Indiana tune written by Aubrey Holt. This a great song for Friday night.
We’ll dance to the music around and around,
C’mon, baby, don’t you let me down.
While the moon is shining down so bright,
We’re gonna paint this town tonight.
Hey baby, we’re gonna have some fun.
Hey baby, we’ll stay out till one.
The call-and-response duet style arrangement is unique, and grabs your attention right off the bat. It’ll be hard to not have fun while listening to Hey Baby. (And Tom does a great job filling Harley Gabbard’s shoes on the bass part!)
It’s no secret that Tom and Chris are big fans of classic country. Their last album included a Buck Owens and a Don Gibson tune. They outdid themselves on their sophomore release with their original song, The Ballad of Buck & Don. The song is a salute to Buck Owens and his legendary righthand man, Don Rich, combining lyrics from over a dozen classic Buck Owens songs to create a Tom Feller original. If Feller & Hill’s band name, “The Bluegrass Buckaroos,” wasn’t a big enough clue, The Ballad of Buck & Don leaves no room for doubt that Tom and Chris are diehard Buck Owens fans. This clever tune will be a favorite of both country and bluegrass fans alike.
Here Comes Feller & Hill… Again! is available on Tom T. and Dixie Hall’s label, Blue Circle Records, so, naturally, there are a pair of Hall originals included on the album. The Halls’ Big Blue Roses was Feller & Hill’s breakout hit from their debut album, and was the #12 Bluegrass Song of 2013 according to Bluegrass Today’s National Airplay Survey.
Government Blues, the album’s lead single, is following in the footsteps of its predecessor. This clever song pokes fun at the one thing which all Americans love to hate: the government. Calling out politicians for their “speeches with a lot of hot air” and a request for some “donkey and elephant stew” provide a song around which Americans on both sides of the aisle can rally.
The other Tom T. & Dixie song here has a distinct country sound. Tired of Losing You sounds as if it could have been recorded by Ray Price or Connie Smith. No stranger to classic country sounds, Rhonda Vincent joins Tom and Chris to provide an exquisite hard core country sound. Chris Hill even laid down his banjo and sat down at the steel guitar to make this song as authentically country as possible. It’s a real treat.
Hearkening back to the classic bluegrass Gospel sounds of Reno & Smiley, the guys do a masterful take on the Don Reno original, He’s Coming Back To Earth Again. Chris’ banjo work is powerful, and shows why he is, but shouldn’t be, one of the most overlooked traditional banjo players on the circuit today.
Feller & Hill found material from such varied sources as Faron Young, Mark Rader, and Dottie Rambo, providing the album with a great deal of variety. Hot picking from Michael Cleveland, Glenn Gibson, and Steve Thomas alongside Feller & Hill, ensure that this album has something for everyone.
Without a doubt, my favorite on the album is Here Comes Polly. Another deep catalog Boys From Indiana song from the pen of Aubrey Holt, I can’t get enough of this song. It is one of the catchiest bluegrass songs I’ve heard in a while, beginning with just a mandolin and guitar, then shifts into a musical tour de force with Michael Cleveland’s triple fiddles, Chris Hill’s banjo, and a catchy drum beat from Tom Feller. It’s hard to keep from jumping up and dancing a jig when listening to this one. Cody Jones provides some rock solid bass vocals on the chorus, which help set this song over the top. Polly must have been quite a firecracker, because she is driving me crazy in this song! Once you hear Here Comes Polly, it’ll be the only song you’ll want to listen to for days. Expect this one to be climbing up the Bluegrass charts soon.
As we have come to expect, Feller & Hill’s mix of tight harmonies, powerful songs, and high energy proves a winning combination on their sophomore release. Fans of traditional music will not be disappointed with Here Comes Feller & Hill… Again!
Now, it’s time for me to call Aubrey Holt and see if he still has Polly’s number!
photo by LuAnn Adams
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Category: Music Reviews
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