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November 2008

Lisa Hilton
Sunny Day Theory
Ruby Slippers

Lisa Hilton plays feel-good music. She is unexceptional technically and conventional stylistically. But she is sincere, mostly avoids the saccharine, and, after all, who doesn’t like to feel good?

She is so uniformly upbeat that a piece about last year’s wildfires near her Southern California home, “After the Fire,” is pretty and bright with chromaticism. Other warm-weather SoCal themes are the sweetly rippling “Malibu Morning” and “Sunset on the Beach” (a jaunty, happy sunset: no end-of-day pensiveness here).

Hilton surrounds herself with really good people. Engineer Al Schmitt affords clear recorded sound. Bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Lewis Nash often provide the most substantive content within these performances. Grenadier’s dark, out-of-time forays are the only suggestion of devastation within “After the Fire.” Pete Seeger’s well-intentioned “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” is a simpering melody that Hilton wisely turns over to Grenadier, who hardens it.

Originally published in November 2008
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