Artist: Barak Hill
Album: This Life I Love
Reviewer: Alexa Spieler
Barak Hill is no stranger to the music industry, having been writing music since the tender age of fourteen. Now nearly sixteen years later, this indie singer/songwriter has transformed into a polished, unique, truly talented and remarkable adult professional. This Life I Love is Hill’s first ever full-length solo album, recorded in 2010 and released in January of 2011. It’s a simple combination of acoustic guitar and pure vocals, but complex in its own way. The instruments and vocals progress and drift into and out of the songs, but the main focus is always and will always be the lyrics. Comfortably strong songwriting and clean production are what make Barak Hill who he is, and what makes him destined to join the greats in the indie/folk collection. Watch out Ryan Adams: Barak Hill is on his way to the top.
Kicking off This Life I Love ‚”My Way Home” begins with a simple chord progression on acoustic guitar. It’s calming and soothing, accompanied by Hill’s smooth vocals. The piece retains this calm feel, but towards the coda, things change a bit. Harmonic voices are added in addition to Hill’s vocals, ultimately completing the song with those counter harmonies. “Twenty-seven/Twenty-eight” follows, but starts off with a rather different vibe from the banjo. Still calm, but also bright and uplifting. What is most beautiful about Hill’s music and his songs is his remarkable ability to take something simple and craft it into something purely beautiful. The soothing tone of his voice and the acoustic guitar easily fit together like puzzle pieces. There’s a strength and passion in his voice that any artist would kill to have.
“I Can’t Talk To You” is a definite stand out track here, adding harmonica and even a harmonica solo to the mélange. Hill’s passion is belted out as he exclaims “I can’t talk to you!” Also high on the hit list is “Kerosene (An Arsonist’s Lament),” where again the lead vocals are made the true star, by their power this time, instead of their delicacy. “Kerosene” may only be nearly over a minute long, but it’s more than enough time for Hill to take listeners on a journey that becomes heavier and more intense with each line. Lowering the intensity now, “Hannah, See You Soon” tells the story of many good memories with Hannah, and his journey back home to her. With the lightness of the acoustic guitar and Hill’s voice, this is compelling songwriting and perfect story telling. It is one thing to be a gifted singer, and another to be a gifted lyricist. To be an inspired storyteller as well is a very powerful combination. Hill’s talent and musical agility shines brightly through on This Life I Love. It’s a solid indie/folk album packed with clean production and great songwriting, bound to become a favorite of many very soon.
Review by Alexa Spieler
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)