Natalie Jane Hill – Soley
Dear Life Records – October 29, 2021
Van Morrison named one of his albums A Period of Transition, a set that was equally based on. could apply Natalie Jane Hill& # 39; s second album Soley. After moving from the Blue Ridge Mountains back to Austin, Texas, in 2019, she began a time of self-discovery that led to the new album. She was also open to creative input from outside. With an expanded palette of sounds, the additional colors and textures create a tonal shift that makes Soley an even more appealing offering.
This album only follows their last one by a year, and while second albums can often feel rushed, there's nothing that feels rushed. It is a remarkably mature endeavor; in many ways it exposes itself on a level that many of us would rather not. "Plants and Flowers That Do Not Grow Here" offers the opportunity to look into their world, and the picture is not always as pretty as the music would lead you to believe. One of the most personal songs on the album, she says, “It's about trying to navigate through a period of addiction while in a dissociated state. I had spent some time trying to distinguish reality from illusion, and I wanted this song to capture the dreamlike quality in which I was lost. "
But the song is less of a dream than a reality, one that shows how easy it is to transform what you see into something completely different. Amid the plucked guitar, soft pedal steel and strings, she sings: "Because it's funny but strange / How easy we can make a memory / Appear better from a distance." This reality hits the core of Soley, the idea that people need to get ahead having to do certain things yourself, no matter how painful it may be.
"To Feel Alone" wafts in with a vibraphone and guitar as Hill begins to list all the things she's been through and focuses on the sounds she hears. It's not so much a feeling of loneliness that haunts the song, but an appreciation of the different sounds she's experiencing as no one else is there to fill the void. Fingerpicking and steel guitar are in the foreground on “Soley” while Hill sings, “I think I'm still learning slowly / How to be okay on my own / It will take some time to get comfortable / To trust that I'm right where I should be. "Obviously, this is a woman who grapples with new realities.
Part of the wonder that is Soley is listening to Hill as she experiences the world from a new perspective, one in which she is alone. That comes through loud and clear with "Better Now".
The song has a sense of melancholy when you look back at what was and wonder what would have happened if things had turned out differently. The guitar and the electric piano shape the piece, while it closes lyrically: "Trust me / I won't let you down / Can't you see / I'm better now." The problem is that you can't know what would have been; there is only the present moment.
With Soley, Natalie Jane Hill has come to the other side of her problems. She's a more mature woman in a better place. That she has the courage to reveal everything for us is what makes this work so remarkable.
Pre-order alone (October 29) via Bandcamp: https://nataliejanehill.bandcamp.com/album/solely
Photo credit: Julian Neel