Willie Hill was born
in Albany, Georgia, the son of a gospel-musician father.
"Leavin' Won't Be Easy" (Ichiban 1997)
1 Leavin' Won't Be Easy
2 Ain't Your Fool No More
3 Goin' Down Slow
4 Missin' You
6 Friendly Reunion
7 One Way Love Affair (Dot's Song)
8 Lonely Room
9 Try Me Tonight
10 Can't Leave Your Love Alone
"I'm A Man On A Mission" (Ifgam 2007)
***1/2 The phrase "long awaited new album" is an overused cliché that actually fits the new Willie Hill quite rightly. See, it was all the way back in 2005 when the first single off this LP was released. That track, "Man On A Mission", was a moderate Southern Soul hit that portended a good Theodis Ealey-like batch of tunes. But the album never came. Instead you could find the track on the compilation Theodis Ealey & Friends "Let Me Put The Head In It". Then throughout 2006 and early 2007 another Hill song cropped up on many-a-playlist, the lovely, sentimental "Friendly Reunion". But this track was from Hill's out-of-print Ichiban set "Leavin' Won't Be Easy".
Well here we are in late 2007 and the truly long-awaited new CD by Willie Hill has dropped...and it lives up to the promise. It leads off with the above-mentioned title track, includes the terrific "Friendly Reunion" and a slew of good 'uns. Mr Theodis Ealey has produced and presented an album on Hill not unlike his own output: Keyboard-driven, upbeat bumpers and Blues- not too polished but with a bouncy bottom.
The official first single, though commercially risky considering it's snail pace, is a true Soul ballad with lilting organ and Ealey's bluesy guitar noodlings. Hill's not a powerful singer but his choked phrasing is full of character and emotion. It's simply a great song that I hope radio embraces. Perhaps an easier choice for radio would've been the Tyrone Davis-inspired "Treat Her Right" or the shoulder rollin', toe tappin' bumps "One Way Or Another" and "I'm Your Man". Again, if you like that Theodis style like I do you'll be down for these in a big way. Two more midpaced Memphis movers, "Slippin' And Hidin" and "Ain't Your Fool No More", another Soulful slowie ("When Will I Stop Loving You") and the slow Blues "Take Off Your Shoes" (formerly cut by Bobby Bland) round out this fine release. And to use another cliché'... it's worth the wait.