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Cliff Hillis
Be Seeing You
Not Lame Records

From the halls of Fort Collinsí power pop producing Not Lame records comes another shining example of the talent that lies undiscovered by the masses. Cliff Hillis is a student of meaningful pop music and thick, though uncluttered arrangements. His lyrics are brilliant and his melodies shining examples of the seemingly lost art form of pop music. Hillis is obviously not afraid to challenge the listener with either his use of ten-cent words or topics that may seem sensitive to some people. But he is delicate with his dealings, both musically and lyrically.

"Coming Out Alive" begins the album with a sharp drum beat and guitars dense enough to cloud up the speakers. Itís a hopeful rollicking song, the sort that is lacking in a good bit of the worldís music collections. "Second Dimension" continues with a very Semisonic sounding guitar drag and insightful lyrics, which are delivered with passion. You can make it out alive if you want to/have you ever been away from your bedroom. "Grounded" trades in the pounding drums and electric guitars for a more acoustic feeling, with swirling organs and a more gentle air. Hillis again demonstrates his penchant for lyrics with meaning and poise, rather than the words that most songwriters throw around. Jangling guitars and solid drums carry "Me And You", a pleasant song both sonically and lyrically. "Before And After" is softly wrought with acoustic guitars and delicately floating strings, solidly supporting the meaningful lyrics. Hear the sound of broken faces/crying in subtle little ways/ways and means around a problem/who could heal me on such a day? On "Sheila Said", Hillis brings back out the driving guitars and pounding drums, and throws in blaring horns for the chorus. This song is powerful and would make anyone lay heavy on the throttle of their respective vehicles.

"Medicine" is a kinder music, with some almost country guitar licks carefully placed to enhance the arrangement. But again, the ultimate strength of the song lies in its lyrics, Fake a smile but all the while itís just a distant static notion/certain words you never heard could have calmed the frantic ocean/once again, medicine makes us whole. Words are the focus of "Wake", a slowly lilting acoustic piece backed with trembling organs and spacey theremin-like soundings. The music is beautiful, and evokes a sense of peaceful drifting, albeit on a sea of tortured memories. "When You Feel" continues the slower musics and images of childhood days intermixed with the structure of growing older and life taking itís toll. Picture crooked hanging on the wall/letter perfect meaning none at all/moments instinct is to run away/tell the world what it has yet to say. Horns make their second appearance on "All Of Your Sunshine", with a very 1960ís Chicago feel. I can almost imagine this song being entitled "25 Or 6 To 4"Öor some nonsense. A nice song, but reminiscent of things Iíd rather not remember. "Never December" is a slower dirge-like song, questioning the needs for loss and ending, and always with that hint of madness that makes for truth. A very Lenny Kravitz bridge offsets the rest of the song, and is a nice highlight. "Nothing Matters More" is a quietly passionate song, perfect for a final song on an excellent record. There are interesting percussion sounds, but the real focus, as I think Iíve stated, lies in the lyrical content. Pure emotion and honesty can be found in these words.

The songs of Chris Hillis are more than captivating musically, but the real strength lies in the lyrical content. Most of the songs on this record seem to be here for a purpose, strangely lacking in filler and lackluster disseminations. There is enough depth to hold a listener musically, but the real essence of the songs lies in the lyrics, which is really what music is supposed to be about.

On my driving scale, where one makes me sleep and 10 makes me get tickets every mile or so, this album comes in at a solid 6. Definitely some movers, but Iíd rather actually pay attention to these songs and digest what they have to say.

ó David DeVoe

Track Listing:

  1. Coming Out Alive
  2. Second Dimension
  3. Grounded
  4. Me & You
  5. Before And After
  6. Sheila Said
  7. Medicine
  8. Wake
  9. When you Feel
  10. All Of Your Sunshine
  11. Never December
  12. Nothing Matters More

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