Sound & Vision with Natalie Jane Hill

The most enriching music wraps you in a thought provoking cocoon, has a hazy magic that you can’t quite pin down, and takes your mind to places that otherwise could not be imagined. Released through Dear Life Records, Emerald Blue is the mesmerising first single from Natalie Jane Hill’s – and it does exactly that.

Written following her move to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2013, Emerald Blue feels like the perfect introduction to the Central Texas based artist – and is the first taste of debut LP, Azalea (to pre-order, click here), which will be released on 15th May.

As Natalie prepares for the album’s release, we caught up to chat influences, and the things that make her tick. There are her Sound & Vision picks:

Three albums I love:

All Of It Was Mine – The Weather Station

I’ve been listening to The Weather Station for several years now and I always fall back on this record. There was a time when this was the only CD in my car, and it pretty much just stayed there. It would automatically start playing every time I turned the car on and I always just let it. I have fond memories of listening to these songs while driving aimlessly through the blue ridge mountains. It was a great soundtrack for those drives when I needed to get away or to stop thinking so much about something. The softness and sincerity to Tamara’s voice always puts me in a good head space. There’s something to say for songs that immediately transport you to another place. I think of winding roads wrapped in rhododendrons, golden fields of autumn flowers, and always a red barn somewhere in the distance. There is a sense of comfort to this record that feels timeless and so nostalgic for me. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever grow tired of it.

Balsams – Chuck Johnson

I was first introduced to Chuck Johnson by someone very special to me. He would play Blood Moon Boulder in the mornings on the record player. As we made coffee and cooked breakfast, the sounds of the slide guitar would sweep through the living room and into the kitchen. I instantly loved his work. Then a couple years ago when Balsams was released, my fondness grew even more. I absolutely love pedal steel guitar and this album is pretty much entirely just that. Each song kind of has a hypnotic effect that is always very meditative for me. I love to listen to this while I’m unwinding for the day or stretching out on the floor. I would also recommend putting this on if you’ve got some long distance driving to do. These songs remind me to slow down and take everything in to its fullest degree.

Jula – Spirits Of The Red City

A friend of mine invited me to a Spirits Of The Red City show back in 2013 when they passed through Asheville. I didn’t know of them at the time, but I was so thrilled after hearing them. The show itself was pretty magical. There were about 5 or 6 folks on stage and the energy they put off gave such a memorable experience. I remember when Will, the lead singer and guitarist, took the reins on a solo song. The whole crowd became dead silent and it felt like you were the only one in the room. The intimacy and rawness of his voice was unlike anything I had heard before. Since that time, this band has always had a special place in my heart. It consisted of just a group of friends creating the prettiest and most honest folk music. I am not sure if they still make music together, since Jula is the last record they put out. But I feel lucky to have gotten the chance to witness their performance all those years ago. It’s still something I think about.

One important film: Harold and Maude

I have fond memories of watching Harold and Maude for the first time with my dear friend Carlie. We were probably 15 years old or so. I remember sitting on her bed and watching the VHS on her tiny television in her bedroom. That movie was such a celebration to life and it reminds me of simpler times while being young and fearless. And during those times, we would visit each other’s houses by running through the deer trails in the woods and crossing over a dry creek bed. It was less than a 10 minute jaunt and yet there was a sense of freedom to it all. I think there’s a balance to everything and this film really shows the darkness and lightness that naturally comes with living. I mean c’mon…it’s a classic. It’s hard not to love Harold and Maude.

One book I always go back to: I Touch The Earth, The Earth Touches Me – Hugh Prather

I think the main reason I love this book is because of how it came into my life. Some years ago, I was driving around with a few friends in North Carolina and we pulled over at this abandoned building on the side of the road. I don’t know why. I think it had some cool painting on it or something. It seemed to have been a business at one time or another and the door was open. There wasn’t much in there, but some garbage and a few boxes. One of the boxes had some random items in it with a couple play books, along with an old copy of I Touch The Earth, The Earth Touches Me. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the author, but I skimmed through it briefly and decided to grab it. It’s really just a collection of thoughts written by this guy in the 70’s. But they’re honest and witty. Kind of sad too. I’ve kept this book with me for a long time.

One important song:

Are You Leaving For The Country – Karen Dalton

As soon as this song starts to play, I immediately feel a sense of warmth. If it had a colour, I think this song would be a sunny golden hue. I’ve been a big fan of Karen Dalton for a long time now. Her lonesome and sometimes haunting voice is really beautiful and so inspiring. She paints this picture that I always want to be in. There’s this distant sadness attached to her tone that kind of breaks my heart too. I also just relate quite easily to what she’s expressing. Sometimes when I’m leaving a city, I feel this heaviness sort of lift off my shoulders. It feels like I can breathe again and think more clearly.  This is a song that brings me peace and makes me want to sit on a front porch in the summer time. It’s really, really important to me.

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