Detroit Free Press: March 5, 2006
DETROIT DISC: Hill adds bite to ‘Farsighted’
March 5, 2006
Whit Hill’s 2003 debut album, “We Are Here,” was a strikingly well-executed premiere, a rich and vivacious suite of material from a singer-songwriter who seemed to surface out of nowhere.
It also set a formidable high standard for the Ann Arbor artist and her band, the Postcards, led by husband and scene veteran Al Hill on guitar and piano. But for the most part, Hill has successfully cleared the bar with “Farsighted,” delivering a sophomore effort that maintains the first record’s strengths while venturing confidently into new territory.
Hill’s songwriting pen remains sharp; she’s a smart writer who doesn’t let her intellect get the better of her emotion. Best are her evocative slice-of-life vignettes (“Clean My Room,” “Five Lanes of Traffic,” the title track), songs that operate on multiple levels but are graceful enough — and playful enough — to avoid the clumsy symbolism that afflicts so many like-minded peers.
Still, there’s a musical and lyrical pointedness here (“Picture of a Girl,” “Regimen”) that wasn’t so apparent on the first record. The whimsical feel has been toughened with a bit more bite.
The Postcards provide top-end instrumental backing, easily traversing the worlds of bluegrass, traditional folk and saucy blues. Despite what Hill has described as rush-recording sessions last fall, “Farsighted” sounds groomed with warm care — a blue-chip album that stands on its own while firmly proving that 2003’s magic was no fluke.
By Brian McCollum, Free Press pop music critic.