When you think of an artist’s influences, its unlikely that you envision a man inspired by folk and pop punk. Even less likely is the assumption that it’s actually any good. Ladies and gentlemen, Darren Hill would like a word.
Following a very interesting year that saw him preform with such acclaimed musicians as Chuck Ragan and Henry Cluney, Hill has expanded his musical aptitude and experience considerably from his first EP; a fact that can be clearly gleaned from a quick listen to new EP Hand Of A Wolf, which he produced himself.
First track ‘The Rolling Tide’ creeps up slowly on listeners, with its hymn-like vocals and harmonies mingle to create a tune that resemble a seance more than a song. Ghostly lyrics, which are delivered in a 90’s Grunge droll, roll over the mind like the tide they describe, with the folk inspirations become apparent as they describe the desolate scene Hill has created.
‘Howling Into The Wild’ see’s Hill continue to show off his lyrical chops, with feet tapping acoustics accompanying folky lyrics. They are delivered in a punky style, combining to create a unique singing style that leaves you thinking to yourself “Ok, THERE we GO”. Before long, the rhythm returns to the slower, more folk-centric speed of “Rolling…”, providing a soothing and simpler melody before ratcheting back up to its previous thigh slapping potential.
Third song ‘Simple Situations’ breaks the apparent mould of nature-tinged dittys in favour of a pop themed protest song that sees Hill channel his inner folk hero. Early lyrics revolve around basic pop dominated motifs of unrequited love etc etc before the Springsteen-esque harmonica quicks in. Hill seems to come into his own for the next 45 seconds, with perhaps the single most poignant line of the EP being found in this period: “The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep keeping faith”. A unique and refreshing piece on an already unique and refreshing EP, ‘Simple Situations’ proves to be the gift that keeps on giving as it seems to get better with each listen.
Hill continues his strong work with next song ‘Headphones’. Consistent pop influences twinned with folk infused lyrics and guitar licks prevail in this angsty ballad. While the song remains far from a disappointment, it does come across as slightly lacklustre given the promise shown in all three previous songs, as it seems like Hill was playing it safe with this melody.
‘The Storm’ however see’s Hill return to form. Exciting and original licks and vocals tickle the ears as the rock-influences become more apparent. While pop elements are still apparent, Hill’s now patented nature themed Folk style returns in full force. Adhesive vocal harmonies and slow-head rocking drum beats dance together throughout this near 4 minute tune that see’s Hill plant his feet firmly before sprinting to the finish line with final EP-titled track Hand Of A Wolf.
The final track is a three minute audacious epic. Starting of slow, ‘Hand of a Wolf’ lulls listeners into a false sense of security before slowly reaching a crescendo. Agonisingly lyrical prowess mingles perfectly with the fast paced twang and and addictive drum beat to create a dominant finale to a thoroughly enjoyable EP that sees Hill dig into his bag of metaphors to create a deli ours and deliciously apprehensive tune that has listeners literally on the edge of their seats from start to end.
◀ STANDOUT ⁞ The Storm ▶
◀ SOUNDS LIKE ⁞ Bruce Springsteen | Bob Dylan ▶