The Bill Hilly Band,
All Day Every Day
(Borealis, 2002)

The Bill Hilly Band is a Canadian folk group of musicians who go by the first name of Bill and a last name that matches their instruments. OK, the whole concept is eye-rollingly lame, but don't let that stop you from a wonderful folk album with hard-working musicians.

The vocal songs are strong and rely on a broad range of styles, from traditional down-home folk to early 20th-century wartime tunes to choro music. Contrary to most performers, the Bill Hilly Band's original songs are just as good as their renditions of traditional tunes. Their ballad "Lover Come Round" is a slow and beautiful tune of love and life in their own little corner of the Earth. If you're a banjo aficionado, check out Craig Korth's smokin' 5-string in "Bulkley Valley Home," which also has a good male/female duet. "How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)" is a funny World War I tune from 1919 with a great pace that is best described as pseudo-Vaudeville. The best vocal song of the album is the original "Covered Front Porch," which displays the best combination of their vocal range with their aggressive approach to playing instruments.

While the vocal songs of the album are really good, the Bill Hilly Band needs to come out with an all-instrumental collection. The instrumental tracks show a broad range of musical styles that isn't as apparent in their vocal tunes. "Shostakoverture," an excerpt from Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, is a small but precious gem. This classical piece performed in a folk style is a truly unusual sound that at a little over a minute is much too short. Hopefully, their future albums will explore this unique approach to classical music.

"Explorations of a Kolomeika" is a Ukranian melody that left me wishing I was capable of doing that low-stepping dance. "Begin the Beguine" is a Spanish-sounding arrangement focusing on a sultry mandolin with a sexy accordion in the background. (Yeah, that's right, I said sexy.) Speaking of the accordion, Adrian's Dolan's accordion is burning hot and dripping with sweat in "Sicilian Tarantella/The Berlin Busker's Polka." "Andre de Sapato Novo (Andre's New Shoes)" is an enticing Brazilian chorinho tune with a fabulous upright bass.

The last track, "Postcards," is a perfect end to this album. All too often, artists abruptly end their albums or don't have a proper closing. This instrumental tune is not quite forlorn, but sends listeners off on their way in a suitable manner.

All Day Every Day lives up to its name. With all the variety found in this album, it can suit your musical mood. No matter your taste, this album could be for you all day, every day.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 16 November 2002

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