How can understanding the lives of our ancestors help us make sense of our own lives? Like a photo album, DREAMS & GHOSTS presents musical snapshots of one family history, tapping into universal themes of growing up, being brave and finding purpose.
Each song immediately sets the tone for the story it tells, from bluesy resonator guitar on album opener "Hello & Goodbye" and songbook-era crooning of "I Want to Know You" through to sweeping, ghostly sounds of "God Save the Watchman" and horse-trotting cowboy tempos of "Road to Colorado". Some songs capture the voices of specific characters within their stories, as in tender-hearted yet not-so-innocent "Summer 1957" and hopeful, adventurous "Missouri". Others use Hill’s own voice to make sense of her story within the context of her family history, as in the powerfully introspective "Lover’s Leap", as well as to invite listeners directly to ask themselves “what do you find in the lines leading right here to you?”, as in the culminating "Who Are You From?".
While the songs of DREAMS & GHOSTS stand alone as distinctly human stories on their own, together they represent the breadth of Hill’s writing abilities in different musical directions and the depth she is willing to travel to uncover what these stories have to offer. They are rooted in the original purpose of folk music to capture stories of real people, but go a step further to find the meaning in these stories that could help make us a better collective people.
Hill recorded and self-produced DREAMS & GHOSTS in Portland, Oregon, at Medicine Whistle Studios with engineer Dan Rhiger. The album was mastered at RFI Mastering in Seattle, Washington. She hand-picked local talent to support her studio work, including Skip von Kuske of Portland Cello Project on cello and mandolin; JP Garau on piano; up-and-coming independent artists Kelly Bosworth on harmony vocals and Anna Tivel on fiddle; Richey Bellinger on resonator guitar; Bernardo Gomez on bass; Chris Stewart on guitar and snare; and her brother, Jono Hill, on the duet Missouri. For the final track, the traditional call-and-response The Work I Do, Hill assembled a choir that included local legend Anne Weiss.