Johnny Hiland – All Fired Up

by Chuck Dauphin

There is nothing glamorous about the upbringing of Johnny Hiland. Diagnosed with nystagmus, a medical condition causing involuntary eye movement and rendering him legally blind, Hiland nevertheless fell oin love with music, taking up the guitar at age eight.

In the years since, that love of music has taken him to Music City from his native state of Maine, where he has recorded with artists ranging from Ricky Skaggs to Randy Travis to Toby Keith.

His new album features an amazing range of styles and sounds, and he sounds like he is in his own personal zone on each cut. Whether it be on the attitude-ish tracks “All Fired Up” or “Barnyard Breakdown,” or the traditional sounding “Six String Swing,” there’s a little bit of something for everyone. After hearing the latter tune, there’s no doubt that the Opry needs him.

There are also a couple of tributes to the Bakersfield sound in “Bakersfield Bound” and “Double Steppin,” and he closes the album on a feverish pitch with “Blueberry Jam,” and a couple of vocal cuts, with the best being the authentic truck driving anthem “Breaker, Breaker 1-9.” All this album needs is to be played – and played loud!

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