CD Review: The Hills and The Rivers “The Fool & The Magician”

Posted: July 10, 2018 in Music
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Hills & The RiversThe Hills and The Rivers is a Folk-based band that makes its home in Pittsburgh. The band came together when two of the Hill siblings decided to put the songs of Isaac Hill to music. Eventually, the four Hills siblings and some friends came to form the band. Today, the band consists of: Isaac Hill – Vocals, Octave Mandolin; Heidi Hill – Vocals, Tambourine; Ian Hill – Vocals, Mandolin; Colin Hill – Vocals, Washboard, Melodica; Faith Hersey – Djembe; James Bristol – Upright Bass; Joey Schuller – Banjo and Chris Fazio – Violin, Trumpet, Piano. This ensemble named The Hills and The Rivers has just created a new release called The Fool &The Magician.

The Fool &The Magician album from The Hills and The Rivers begins with the track “Zero”. The lead-off track of barely over thirty seconds contains a simple octave mandolin/violin combination in the orchestration and a rather simplistic feel to the music itself as the musical phrases seem to repeat themselves several times before the tune fades out. The simple introductory track gives a little indication as to what is to follow.

With the “title track” of the release, The Hills and The Rivers prove just how talented they are. The beginning seconds to the track of “The Hills” feels like a riff from a Rock and Roll song and then the rest of the instrumentation joins in to create a much more Folk-oriented track. However, what is produced combines that Folk influence and a Jam band feel to create a track that takes the best of both worlds to make a track that feel right at home in either a Folk music festival or in a more jam band-oriented setting like opening for a band like Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.

Taking a generous amount of the feel from the previous track of “The Hills,” the band adds in a lot of Gypsy music influence. The result for the third track on the album entitled The Fool & The Magician is the song entitled “The Leap”. Just like the previous track’s song contains a sound that is rather reminiscent of tunes from the likes Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, “The Leap” also finds the band bringing to mind a band with their music. “The Hills” contains a musical style that may remind some of the style of the Atlanta-based band Little Tybee who has been known for their Folk-Rock/Indie sound. It is the quick pace and higher energy level to the music that really brings to mind that Indie feel. When the band launches into an all-out jam with members of the group taking solos within the track, the listener gets a more intimate feel of the musical abilities within the group.

The band The Hills and The Rivers continues their new album with the track “The Road”. The earlier tracks on the release had featured Isaac Hill on lead vocals. For “The Road,” Isaac steps aside and his sister, Heidi Hill, takes a turn at the vocals. Bringing the energy level of the music back down a little, Heidi and the band create a song in “The Road” that once again incorporates a large amount of Folk influence while also bringing a good amount of Rock and Roll mindset to both the music and the lyrical content in the track. The higher pitch of Heidi’s soprano vocals adds a bit of beauty to the track.

It is on the track of “Gotta Get My Thrill” that the band The Hills and The Rivers really steps away from the rest of the album. On this track, the band seems to combine the Folk influence that flows through the rest of the release and a large amount of Punk influence together. The resulting combination is a sound that is both quick-paced and rather intense. For those looking for something really different, “Gotta Get My Thrill” is just what you’re looking for as it would be rather difficult to find another Folk/Punk blend out there today. And while there may be others doing that Folk/Punk blend, The Hills and The Rivers’ track of “Gotta Get My Thrill” is almost too much fun to listen to because of the contrasting styles that combine to create this track.

Not to be confused with a very similarly titled track from another band of siblings called Hanson’s song, the track “Mmbop” has the band The Hills and The Rivers creating a track using only the vocals. The acapella track brings to mind groups like Lambert, Hendricks & Roth and The Manhattan Transfer who are known for vocal jazz similar to what is contained on this track. The track is instrumental in content and jazz-based as far as the style is concerned. While the rest of the material on the album contains lyrics, the different approach on this track shows that the ensemble has real depth when it comes to writing songs.

Getting back to music-based tracks, the next track on the The Fool & The Magician release is the song “Middle Garden”. Taking the Folk music the band has presented so far and adding a slight medieval feel to it, the track takes the music from the band back in time while the lyrics describe a man looking for direction in his life as he sits and ponders things in his world and his life. The gentle pace to the music adds to the overall feel of the track.

The Fool & The Magician release from The Hills and The Rivers is a solid Folk release. And with the various musical influences that the band throws in throughout the twelve tracks that make up the album, the listener gets to experience several different sides to the band’s music. If Folk music is something you enjoy listening to, The Fool & The Magician release from Isaac, Heidi, Ian and Colin Hill and the rest of The Hills and The Rivers is one release you need to search out.
To hear a little bit of the music from The Hills and The Rivers, check out their video to the song “The Fool.”

For more information, check out The Hills and The Rivers’ PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company.


For even more The Hills and The Rivers, check out the band’s Tiny Desk contest entry with their song “The Fool“. 


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