Review: Sam Hill – Bringing It Back Home
Reviewer: Chris O’Connor
As most folk know, I am a colossal Southern Rock fan, hell, I’m practically a devotee to the genre, so I pride myself on recognising real Suvvern Rawk quality when I’m presented with it. Now, let me tell you, this debut by Jacksonville’s Sam Hill is an absolute gem! It must be something in the water in Jacksonville, because if you know your Southern Rock history, then you’ll understand that it’s almost the wellspring of the genre, with Southern Rock Royalty such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Mofro, .38 Special, The Allman Bros, Grinderswitch, Big Engine, and a host of others all coming from the city.
As if it isn’t enough that they come from such a place, then what should also turn your heads is that the band is actually something of a supergroup, as the members come from Molly Hatchet, Mofro, David Allen Coe Band, Toots & The Maytals, and The Al Green Band – you don’t get to be in any of those acts unless you are a damned fine musician! So, who are they? Ray Jett fronts the band, Duane Johnson and Dusty Barber are the twin guitarists, Andy Orth supplies keyboards, while the rhythm section is comprised of Stewart Dalrymple on bass guitars and drummer/ percussionist Eric Mason.
The band technically doesn’t class their music as purely Southern Rock, using instead the term ‘Swamp Metal’ to describe their sound – so you can immediately see that they have much more in common with the likes of Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet than the more country end of the genre. Their music is foot stompin’, head bangin’ and booty shakin’ stuff, all huge riffs and thunderous rhythms, I would so love to see these guys in the live environment!
It’s not just that the guys are great musicians, they’re also terrific songwriters, the songs are all of a uniformly impressive standard, beautifully crafted and played with huge passion – I absolutely love this album, they deserve to be absolutely huge. With songs as melodic yet punchy as ‘The Best Of Me’, which highlight’s Ray’s powerfully soulful voice, success should be unquestionable. ‘Better Man’ struts and swaggers with well-deserved ease, it’s a boot stomper of a song.
The title song itself is a thunderous statement of intent, all razor riffs, melodic keyboards, and a thunderous bottom end, this will be killer in the live environment. ‘My Way’ brings to mind the very best of Molly Hatchet or even The Regulators – it’s an absolute beast of a number with a huge chorus! ‘Preacher Man’ is a mean and moody number, a real slow-burner that positively oozes with attitude. Finally, ‘Right Here In The Room’ is a dramatic and melodic number that closes out this debut in huge style.
I honestly wish this album was longer, as I truly can’t get enough of it! ‘Bringing It Back Home’ is self-financed, self-produced, and is an example of how truly great fully independent music can be. This is easily one of the best Southern Rock albums that I’ve heard in a very long time, and if you have any sense at all. You’ll rush out and buy a copy of this total gem!