Exactly a year to the release date ORCHARD gets some hometown love.
“as warm and achingly intimate as the best work of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.”
John Lucas, The Georgia Straight
Jess Hill is clearly in no rush. She released her second album, Orchard, five years after her debut, Road. Her songs are equally unhurried affairs. They unfold slowly, deliberately, with Hill’s strong but vulnerable voice crystal-clear. On a couple of tracks—“Stagger” and “Orchard”—Hill kicks things up to mid-tempo, but she tends to favour slow, sad songs.
And sad they are: Hill often uses natural imagery (of birds and flowers, mostly) as metaphors for human relationships. That may be an obvious device, but she does it well, crafting lyrics that are evocative, if not exactly uplifting. “Clouds full of secrets dropping hints through the air/Loosening the sky’s tight grip on despair,” she sings on “Precariously”.
With the Hive’s Jesse Gander * in the producer’s chair, and boasting an all-star supporting cast (including former Black Rice drummer Juli Steemson and cellist Cris Derksen), the album’s sound matches its subject matter. Based largely around acoustic instruments, including Hill’s own guitar, the songs feel back-porch rustic and natural. A few numbers, such as the string-accompanied “In the Evening”, stretch out into orchestral-folk territory, but the sparer cuts are as warm and achingly intimate as the best work of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
*edited by me to chime in and remind the world that the record was masterminded and arranged by the incomparable Aaron Joyce who wore the badge of Producer for every song on the record. Jesse Gander engineered, mixed, and co-produced.
Post Toronto stories to come…soon. But first I gotta move!