Imagine this: you’re taking a hike up a mountain in Oregon. You get to the top to find a beautiful panorama of the Columbia River, Washington State, and miles of forest. While you’re enjoying the view and the solitude, you hear something that sounds like an acoustic guitar. On the other side of the peak you find a twenty-something that might or might not have a beard playing a few simple songs. Then you notice a small orchestra behind him…
This poorly illustrated scene and incredible photo is what happens in my head every time I listen to Hijo del Rio’s upcoming album, National Parks. At it’s core a singer-songwriter record, each track leads to beautiful yet subtle orchestration. The instrumentation ranges from voice and acoustic guitar to drums and electric guitars organs and string instruments. But first, the band.
Hijo del Rio consists mainly of singer and guitar player Tommy Read, from Silsbee, Texas. Other instrumentation was provided by friends and family members. I have been following Tommy for a few years through his different musical endeavors. I always enjoy whatever music he is making and Hijo del Rio is no exception. He always make simple songs (folk, singer-songwriter, blues, etc.) so layered and complex. His lyrics simultaneously touch on the very personal while reaching all issues of life. Which brings us to the new record.
National Parks is a collection of 12 songs. Songs of life and love, death and cigarettes. It’s not an upbeat album. Most of the tracks are slower, introspective songs. But that’s okay. It’s more than okay. It’s beautiful:
The recorded version of When the Summer Came is probably my favorite track on the record. Half way through the song, a simple half-note melody comes in. Played by a pump organ, the single notes almost sound like a clarinet. Slowly, a cello is introduced. Then more strings. Finally, the last 45 seconds give us a chilling, incredibly divine orchestration played over the acoustic guitar that I don’t want to ever stop. Alas, it does. Luckily, I have the record on repeat (you will too) and I just have to wait for the song to come back around.
Released on April 26th, National Parks can be purchased on their bandcamp page. When you but this record (because I know you will), you get immediate downloads of all the tracks at any quality level you desire. Listen to the tracks now and click on the album title or cover to go pre-order the record for a measly $7:
Noistrade.com is currently showcasing National Parks under their “New and Notable” section on their front page. Because of that, Hijo del Rio is offering the complete album with a bonus track for FREE! Click here to get it!
Friday night, my friend William and I were able to drive up to Waco to see Hijo del Rio’s CD release show. It was a great event with music from a few bands and an art show by the album cover artist, Colby Crelia. Hijo took the stage with full band (including two violinist) to perform most of the tracks off the album. It was incredible to see these songs live. My favorite song to see performed was probably Perfect Ghost. Tommy’s guitar was beautifully dirty sounding. The solo was perfectly sloppy. It was a great moment.
Here’s a shot of the band performing (with the incredible Hannah Read of Lomelda on bass):
And here’s a shot of the band with the two violinist performing my favorite song from the album, When the Summer Came:
Anyways, go buy the record. Now.