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A broad vision of the blues

Have Mercy!
Have Mercy!
By Michael Hill's Blues Mob

Alligator Records: 1996

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This review first appeared in the November 8, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

New York's Michael Hill's second release is immeasurably better than his 1994 debut, "Bloodlines," which was pretty darn good. "Have Mercy!" features better songwriting, more imaginative arrangements and the outstanding jazz-tinged piano of new keyboardist E.J. Sharpe.

The stylistic range and variety on "Have Mercy!" are what make it so listenable. From the straight-ahead blues of "Presumed Innocents" to the reggae-tinged "Grandmother's Blues" through the jazz-influenced "Let's Talk About the Weather" and the power pop of "Africa Is Her Name," Hill's new release is like an ultrahip radio station willing to play a little of everything.

Hill's guitar playing remains tasteful, at times brilliant. He's not in the front rank of soloists, but he always has something to say musically.