Anyone who’s been paying attention knows I am a fan of Brenn Hill. As songwriters go, he’s one of the best in the West. And he’s a talented singer and skilled musician.
I first heard Brenn’s music back in the late ’90s at a festival in Cache Valley. I don’t think he was shaving with any regularity back then, but his lyrics already surpassed the standard cowboy clichés to reveal facets of our Western world we all recognize but see with fresh eyes through his songs.
His debut Rangefire album has been in my collection since way back then, and it has spent more than its share of time in a succession of CD players over the years. Several years and a dozen or so outstanding albums later comes How You Heal. Sixteen songs, all Brenn Hill compositions, range from celebrations of cowboy work and Western places to songs that seem inspired by the writer’s maturity into his middle years.
“Middle Age Cowboy,” a story of a cowboy who clings to the life despite pressures to relent, will be familiar to all who reluctantly moved on to other pursuits. “Twenty and Cowboy” is a wistful reflection of years gone by. My favorite track just might be “Fair Weather Cowboy,” a rollicking revelation of a reality many experience but few will admit. The other songs on the album are remarkable for reasons of their own.
If you’re a Brenn Hill fan, you’ll like adding How You Heal to your collection. If you’re not, you ought to be.