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The Hills and the Rivers

Music Review: The Hills and the Rivers – ‘The Fool and the Magician’

The Hills and the Rivers, a street folk family band, have a new full-length release, The Fool and the Magician.

From Pittsburgh, the Hill family embraces multi-generations of musically inclined individuals, and Isaac started writing songs when he was 12. The band began in 2013, when Isaac and Heidi Hill started recording some of Isaac’s songs. This led to their first album, called The World, followed by their second album, Apocalyptic Dreams (2016). The Fool and the Magician is their third album.

With a sound influenced by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Shirley Collins, and Sweeney’s Men, as well as Neutral Milk Hotel, Silver Jews, Fleet Foxes, Blackbird Raum, and Rail Yard Ghosts, The Hills and the Rivers’ music focuses on personal transformation. Lyrical themes include political disorder, ecological devastation, the tarot, and the occult.

There are 10 tracks on The Fool and the Magician. “The Fool” has a bouncy folk melody thick with exotic hints of gypsy punk running through it. Hill’s high tenor exudes persuasive textures. The lyrics of the song tell the tale of mindful, foolish love.

“I, I’ve longed for you / Just as the Sun shines for the Moon / But if I loved the Truth as much as I love you / Then I wouldn’t be the Fool.”

“Mmbop” presents a wonderful array of layered a cappella voices, akin to a lively Gregorian chant. The arrangement of tones, bright and glossy, is precise and oh so gorgeous. “Middle Garden” is a beautiful, sparkling folk tune, full of glorious vocal harmonies. The harmonic interplay between the mandolins and banjo imbues the music with a luminous suffusion.

Carrying a Romani-flavored folk melody, “The Magician” emanates a deliciously traipsing rhythm riding below gracious vocal harmonies. Penetrating tones from the violin infuse the tune with sonic, glistening height.

The Fool and the Magician delivers inimitable folk music of excellence. Layers of acoustic instruments saturate the music with exotic colors, providing a refined, distinctive flow of sound capped by enchanting vocal harmonies. The Fool and the Magician is an album of atypical folk music, declarative and expansive, and worthy of attention.

Follow The Hills and the Rivers on thehillsandtherivers.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Randall Radic

Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.

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