Michael Hill: Have Mercy!

Blues guitar fans will definitely want to check out Michael Hill’s Have Mercy! (Alligator, 63:12), his follow-up to 1994’s acclaimed Bloodlines. The New Yorker, whom Vernon Reid calls the world’s most unsung guitar hero, rips it up on good-time shuffles like “Lost In The Sauce” and “Women Make The World Go ‘Round,” spraying sweet-toned notes with dazzling bravado. He takes it outside the normal pentatonic scale at times, notably on “Sweeter Days,” and also delves into a fair share of socio-politico discourse, as on “Evil Spirit,” “Presumed Innocent” and “Stagolee/Perspective.” His “Bluestime In America” is an affecting, thoughtful soul anthem along the lines of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and his ongoing interest in reggae music reveals itself on “Grandmother’s Blues.” Like deLay, Hill is avoiding cliche s while remaining true to the spirit of the music.