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Chris Hillman

The Other Side – 2005 (Sovereign Artists)

Reviewed by Greg Milliken

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CDs by Chris Hillman

A founding member of The Byrds, Flying Burritto Brothers and Desert Rose Band, Chris Hillman has been recording since the early 1960's. On his first album in more than seven years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member expertly fuses folk, bluegrass and gospel to craft a remarkably personal statement.

Hillman's sweet, mellow tenor has aged gracefully and a stellar group of sidemen, including producer Herb Pederson, support Hillman's mandolin and guitar work with exquisite picking and ethereal harmonies. Highlights among the 14 smart selections are fresh interpretations of several of his classics: The Byrds' "Eight Miles High," Desert Rose Band's "True Love" and "Missing You," and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," which he co-wrote with Stephen Stills for Stills' 1972 album, "Manassas."

Perhaps the best treat, though, is the passion that the normally restrained Hillman brings to several southern gospel numbers. With "Heaven Is My Home," "Heavenly Grace," "Our Savior's Hand" and "The Wheel," "The Other Side" takes on an overtly spiritual tone that helps to make this arguably the most compelling work of Hillman's long career.