Darren Hill is a new name to Northern Ireland’s lively music scene. Still a young man, it’s clear to me he is that point where he is finding out who and what he is; how to use the myriad influences he namechecks (Springsteen, Dylan, Ryan Adams, Deathcab For A Cutie) without being too obvious, or jumping from one style to another in an attempt to be too varied.
The result, based on this two track single is a folky/grungy take on Pop Punk and regular readers will know what I think of those two little words. To be honest I am not sure if the grunginess is deliberate or whether the level of production was all Darren could afford. No criticism there, every artist has to start out somewhere, has to hear their music back to them to be able to know what to improve, what works and what doesn’t. Back in my day it was the humble demo-tape, now it is called a downloadable single. That’s ok. But what Darren is releasing should not be mistaken with a genuine single, even by an unsigned band, because it simply isn’t of that standard production-wise. But sticking this up online for people to hear and for hacks like me to critique is another part of the process for Darren and I hope he responds to this review in the spirit in which it is intended.
The 2 songs available are very similar. They are both short, punchy, fast-strummed hand riffs, full of lyrical experimentation (i.e. not overly chained to rhyme or rhythm), sung in a deadpan Nor’n Irish drawl, which teeters on being flat at times. Both songs feature a full band sound, even if the bass and drums suffer the most with the muddy production, and it begs the question is this the direction Darren Hill is heading, the precurser to putting the Darren Hill Band together? So far his gigging experience has come in the form of solo acoustic, which I don’t really see doing the songs justice. But it’s all a learning curve, and as long as Darren can learn and develop, he has certainly shown enough song-writing potential to suggest we’ll hear more of him in future.