I have a very long and extensive love for metal, so when I first popped in The Hills Are in Bloom, the CD from Indiana University professor John Minton, I thought, “Oh boy. another boring bluegrass disc.” But my early childhood ears were saturated with bluegrass and country music, and I have a very open mind, so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did. The Hills Are in Bloom is a very polished production, and John Minton is a masterful songwriter/lyricist with a grand vision and killer sense of humor. The CD is loaded with lots of witty phrases and one-liners throughout.
On this, his third solo album, Minton takes everyday, mundane subject matter and crafts it into something fun and, at times, a bit unusual. He spins every track on the disc into a short story that can easily be played out and seen in the mind’s eye – kind of like a little movie. Minton covers everything from DUI’s to greed to heartbreak and lust with great ease and a simplistic flow. The hooks are very catchy and well thought out, especially on the songs “Your Brain Has Got A Mind All It’s Own” and “Pick Poor Robin Clean.”
The musical stylings are absolutely bluegrass, but mixed with obvious influences that combine Bill Monroe, a young Elvis, Johnny Cash, dirty blues and rockabilly. Minton has a real talent for taking you back in time, and the entire CD has a very “old school” feel and utilizes a plethora of different instruments and sounds without being overwhelming. Every sound has a very subtle feel, like a cool breeze on a lazy Sunday afternoon in the sunshine.
The Hills Are in Bloom is the kind of CD that targets lovers of all things old and from a simpler time, but can be enjoyed by fans of most any kind of music, and that’s by no means an easy task to accomplish.
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March 27 • The Clyde