On his debut, this Portland, Ore. resident delivers an antidote to the melancholy tuneage that characterizes his hipper-than-thou hometown. Four Shades of Green
is like a sound bite of the tapes old-time archivist Alan Lomax spent years recording. The feeling is sticky and still, like an Appalachian night, and with all the nostalgic comforts of the old home place. Throughout, Hill pays homage to Tennessee—where most of these 13 songs were written—with a style that could be pulled from the New Lost City Ramblers songbook, but with the progressiveness of the Country Gentlemen.
Hill will inevitably be lumped with old-time revivalists like Old Crow Medicine Show, but in actuality he’s more difficult to peg. He could be right at home next to Vandaveer and Luke Temple. Four Shades of Green is wayfaring like the Hackensaw Boys but vogue like the Avett Brothers.
Multi-instrumental odes—fiddle, guitar, bass, horn and mandolin—mainly support Hill’s narrative abilities. “Clap and Sing” balances on Woody Guthrie-style sing-speak with reticent complexity, and vintage melodies in the form of organized chaos define the jubilant “Next Stop Winona.” But Hill drives the rollicking mood home on “Maybe Crazy Baby” with attractive despondency.
Adam Hill plays Monday, Sept. 17, at the Badlander at 9 PM. $3.