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Cliff Hillis
Better Living Through Compression
TallBoy Records

Full of cascading pop melodies, earthy guitars and breezy harmonies, Better Living Through Compression is sure to delight even the pickiest of listeners. With fluid melody and a distinct 70's style, the entire album is reminiscent of such musical giants as The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, and Squeeze. Lending to the album's sound was Cliff Hillis' touring band the Foward Thinkers and guest rhythm section Mike Bitts and Steven Brown.

The album is started brilliantly with the opening track "So Much To Tell You,"and it only gets better from there. The delightfully catchy "Used To Be The Man" showcases Hillis' lyrical prowess. Hillis also adeptly ventures into the topic of love throughout the album with songs such as "Two Of The Same," "Madeline," "China Heart" and "Better Than Myself." Toting an excellent guitar solo, "Go Go Go" is probably the fastest song on the album, which doesn't really say much since overall, Hillis' sound is a mellow one.

The only gripe I have with Better Living Through Compression is its lack of any real presence or power. Musically it's a masterpiece, but somehow it failed to make the leap from good too great. While the tracks are beautifully produced, the songs themselves lack any emotional resonance or depth. It's a lot like that shallow hot guy (or girl) who works at your office: He's nice to look at, and sure, he adds aesthetically to the atmosphere, but do you really want to carry on a forty minute conversation with him?

Despite this tragic flatness, I have to admit that Better Living Through Compression is worth the $12.50. Hillis defintately deserves credit where credit is due. This 70's style pop singer-songwriter knows how to compose a song, and his musical output is, without exception, elegant and enjoyable.

-Emily Vandiver

Track Listing:
1. So Much To Tell You
2. Used To Be The Man
3. Two Of The Same
4. Home
5. Madeline
6. Go Go Go
7. China Heart
8. Six Feet Under
9. All These Memories
10. Better Than Myself
11. Ribbons and Rain

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