BACK TO EVEN Bill Lloyd
A pillar of power pop, a cowpunk prince, and a songwriting savant.
Bill's been turning out monster songs for decades. He's always struck me as young by nature, and will unquestionably be writing a song and in the middle of a record right to the grave.
He and Radney Foster were staff co-writers landing cuts in the 80s, and that set the stage for RCA to ink them to an artist deal. Foster and Lloyd were a cornerstone act of New Country in a window of time where Nashville was actually pretty cool. Acts like Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, The Judds, and Randy Travis were changing a lot of people's minds about what Country music was and could be. Foster and Lloyd epitomized the ability to walk the line between forging their own signature sound and being able to write all kinds of songs for other artists as well.
Bill has always served two masters, and had put out his power pop debut Feeling the Elephant in '86, before F & L really got going. (A decade later, Rhino Records would include "Lisa Anne" in their collection of 80s Power Pop classics, Poptopia.) His pop CDs between the debut and the latest were Set to Pop (1994), Confidence is High +4 ('95), Standing on the Shoulders of Giants ('99), a collection of tribute and compilation cuts called All in One Place (2001), and a smashing collaboration with Jamie Hoover from The Spongetones and The Smithereens' Dennis Diken called Paparazzi in 2004. Most all can be found at the artist's website. Rhino would also put out the two nearly ill-fated records Bill made with the soopagroup The Sky Kings, which included luminaries the likes of John Cowan (Newgrass Revival), Rusty Young (Poco), and Pat Simmons (Doobie Brothers.)
Last year's Back to Even finds our hero in top form. Poignant tales in well-penned words of relationship and circumstance are supported and subverted by jangly guitars and the devil's rhythm section. I favor the two openers in a strong field of tunes, and "The World is a Different Place Without You" is a beautifully sad standout. (Clips on our Listen page.)
Bill is always up to something interesting. He's part of a collective in Nashville called The Long Players that regularly do tribute shows to the music of a certain band at a certain time. Shows have included Who's Next, The Band's eponymous second album, and Neil Young's After the Gold Rush, and more.
He's also been very involved with the First Amendment Center in Nashville, producing their first live CD and touring along with other Nashville and national artists threading the needle of historical censorship with topical song.
If you're not up on Bill's music yet, now's a good time. You can audition it on the clips page, and you can buy it here. He's a classic. FG