Reviews – Radio Songs (2011)

– by Robert K. Oermann

Writer: Byron Hill/Blake Mevis; Producer: Mike Poston & Byron Hill; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tunes/Make Believus, ASCAP; BHP (track). Perennial Music Row hit writer Hill has a new CD called Radio Songs that is packed with smashes. The renditions are acoustic, simple and honest. This 1982 George Strait hit is just one example of this songwriter’s craftsmanship. It is also a reminder how many decades Byron’s career spans. These songs were originally popularized by everyone from stars past such as Ed Bruce (”Nights”) and Alabama (”Born Country”) up to today’s Joe Nichols (”Size Matters”) and Gary Allan (”Nothing on But the Radio”). Impressive, as well as highly listenable.

by Larry DeLaney

It is always interesting to hear a ‘hit’ song performed by the writer of the song. The ‘writer’ sings them the way they were first intended, often done from a different perspective with tiny nuances that differ from the ‘hit’ version. Nashville songwriter Byron Hill has enjoyed a lengthy career of writing the ‘hits’…here he sings them, accompanied only by acoustic guitar arrangements. These bare-bones renditions provide a personal and sensitive variation…and makes for a great listen. High on the Byron Hill hit song list are tunes like Fool Hearted Memory (recorded by George Strait), Pickin’ Up Strangers (a hit by Johnny Lee), Born Country (a hit by Alabama, and also recorded by Canadian artist Ian Eaton), High-Tech Redneck (the George Jones hit), Out Of Your Mind (a hit by Joe Sun), and Nothing On But The Radio (a hit by Gary Allan).  The songlist also includes Byron Hill’s versions of Nights (Ed Bruce), Size Matters (Joe Nichols), Politics, Religion And Her (Sammy Kershaw), The Pages Of My Mind (Ray Charles), Alright Already (Larry Stewart), Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous (Tracy Byrd), If I Was A Drinkin’ Man (Neal McCoy)… and a Canadian connection in Over You, a hit recorded by Anne Murray. In addition to his many years of creating some of Nashville’s biggest hits, Byron Hill has also played a key role on the Canadian scene, penning countless hit tunes recorded by Canadian country artists, and more recently producing hit albums for Canadian stars Gord Bamford and Hey Romeo. His work with Gord Bamford has earned Byron Hill the distinction of twice being named Producer Of The Year, by the Canadian Country Music Association.

by Tom Robinson

“Once I’d started playing this album I just had to leave it playing through to the last note, a superb collection of excellent stories in music. Byron is one of the finest songwriters about real life situations that only come along once in a lifetime. Brilliant well thought out real stories, plenty of feeling and emotion in the singing that draws you to each word and moment. I for one, would enjoy going to a live performance from Byron, listening to this selection had me hanging on the edge of my seat  wanting more as each track closed. Enthralling and captivating music at its best. Excellent and thoroughly enjoyable listening album, I know, I will be turning to it and playing the songs regularly. Album of the week (June 18th 2011) and I am positive it will turn up again in the not too distant future.  Overall rating:  Excellent.”

May 2011

Hit songwriter Byron Hill has a new album out called Radio Songs, which highlights his stellar career of songwriting through the years. These acoustic, raw, stripped down versions of Hill’s original songs reflect the intricate and well crafted writing/musicianship that has sustained his long and illustrious career. All of the songs on this album were originally made popular by artists such as Alabama (“Born Country”), Joe Nichols (“Size Matters”), George Strait (“Fool Hearted Memory”), and many more.  Listening to this album all the way through, you see the longevity in Hill’s writing from the 1970s up until today.  Incredible songs by an incredible songwriter; this is a must get album.

by Stewart Fenwick, August/September, 2011

North Carolinian Byron Hill is one of Nashville’s most accomplished songwriters currently, and he gives the original versions of some of the hits he’s written on the 14 track “Radio Songs” CD (BHP Recordings). You’ll find songs Byron has written for the likes of George Strait, Johnny Lee, Ray Charles, Anne Murray, and Tracy Byrd. The songs are given an authentic simple acoustic treatment, just as you would imagine a songwriter demo-ing. The songs, including “Pickin’ Up Strangers”, “Fool Hearted Memory”, “Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous” and “Nothing On But The Radio”, were recorded over a two year period. It’s a nice collection of songs, done just a bit differently from the versions we’re used to.

by Maurice Hope, July 8, 2011,

Nashville songwriter Byron Hill and as is the case here, occasional recording act has enjoyed great success via covers by everyone from Georges Jones and Strait to Ray Charles by way of newer country acts Joe Nichols and Gary Allan plus Canadian songbird Anne Murray and countless others. As a vocalist his voice has a warmth and smooth timbre that I enjoy, unreservedly. No matter the tempo or mood the song may posses and he varies it considerably. In some ways his music reminds me of the late Dan Seals when he played acoustic, plus one or two more who’s names escape at this moment in time. This matters not one iota for Byron Hill is the person (apologies to Strait and co) I would most like to hear sing them when I take off to my desert island!
I so love the intimacy of the record and with them all commercial in length radio friendly singles; apart from “Out Of Your Mind’ (Joe Sun in 1979) and ‘The Pages Of My Mind’ (Ray Charles) they are all in and around the three-minute mark and perfect in and out done and dusted story songs. Even then four minutes see the story told and wrapped without either over staying their welcome.
Easy on the ear and never dragging Hill’s tones coupled with strong lyrics make this 14-track album a wonderful affair . Making it head and shoulders above the crowd. Among the outstanding cuts we have ‘Politics, Religion And Her’, ‘Fool Hearted Memory’ jaunty ode ‘Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous’ and the sombre ‘If I Was A Drinkin’ Man’ plus from more recent times the typically punchy ‘Size Matters’ (Nichols, 2005). But then again, every one is a winner and like the acts that have enjoyed success with his songs I too am grateful for his work and now even more so on hearing him record the songs in such a wonderful intimate fashion. It is like he had invited into his home to hear such delights as ‘Pickin’ Up Strangers’. From being but strangers once you have listened to the album a time or two you too will be on first name terms with Byron.


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