Painted Worldfeatures five solid songs that demonstrate the best of the ethereal possibilities of experimental indie folk mixed with pop. The EP is not overly produced or reliant on musical gimmicks – an increasing, and often unfortunate, trend in pop music over the past decade.
The raw talent of The Soft Hills is evident on the opening track, “Apples,” an airy and meandering ballad that takes to heart the power of original songwriting and production. The next song, “Spent,” is smooth and sublime, graced with low-key acoustic guitar and piano, almost absent of extraneous percussion. As the song flows gently along, singer and songwriter Garrett Hobba unveils the somewhat ironic lyric, “you’ve been drifting too far.”
Hobba draws inspiration for his lyrics from 20th century literary artists, Eastern philosophy, and symbolic dreams. Fans of Mark Kozelek, the prolific singer and songwriter of San Francisco indie folk bands Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters take note; the likeness of The Soft Hills’ sound and story-telling is, at times, remarkably similar, whether intentional or not.
The sprawling track “Wandering” features ambient, rich harmonies, and the Belle & Sebastian-esque song “Hills Like White Elephants” is easily the EP’s most up-tempo song. The record’s last song, “Diamond Road,” paints a lush Mojave 3-like sonic experience with hints of the folksy charm of Band of Horses. The only draw-back is that the song is a bit too long, clocking in at just under seven minutes long.
The Soft Hills began their journey in 2007 when Hobba moved to Seattle and met up with drummer Caleb Heinrich. Soon the duo were joined by fellow Seattle musicians Brittan Drake on piano, guitar and bass and Brett Massa on guitar, bass and vocals.
“Apples” – The Soft Hills from Painted World
“Hills Like White Elephants” – The Soft Hills from Painted World
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