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Playing God

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Album Review

Bob Hillman's debut album, Playing God, isn't without its shortcomings. There are times when the New York-based folk-rocker meanders and times when he's overly self-indulgent. But when this quirky, Tommy West-produced CD hits the mark — and, quite often, it does — one realizes just how interesting a storyteller Hillman can be. Singing in a deadpan tone, the singer/songwriter tends to favor a very dry sort of humor. His humor isn't blunt or in-your-face, but he gets his points across — on this CD's best songs, you find yourself nodding in agreement with Hillman's observations about the world around him. "Everyone's an Actor in New York" is a real gem; observing that the Big Apple is full of actors, artists, and writers, Hillman finds it incredibly ironic that many of them can't afford movies, books, or art because they're barely surviving. And equally clever are "Salem," a commentary on religious fanatics; "Witchcraft Lover," Hillman's account of a young woman's interest in witchcraft; and "Little Things," which lampoons an arrogant man's exaggerated sense of self-importance. Despite its imperfections, Playing God lets us know that Hillman has potential — considerable potential, in fact.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Born and raised in California but based in New York, Bob Hillman is a quirky folk-rocker with a dry sense of humor and a knack for witty, clever lyrics. The obscure but talented singer/songwriter, who shouldn't be confused with veteran Los Angeles Times rock critic Robert Hilburn, moved to New York in 1994. By day, Hillman earned his living helping prepare high school students for the SAT and other standardized tests, and at night, he performed in the clubs of Manhattan. Hillman had been playing...
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Playing God, Bob Hillman
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