King Roy Wing is a five piece indie folk band in my current hometown of Ashland, Oregon. I recently met with Dan Sherrill at Mix Cafe in Ashland, and we talked about their new album, These Rolling Hills, which he produced.
The cover photo was taken at the historic Hanley Farm.
As a producer and sound engineer and one who knows that not all houses are built the same, Dan sought out a natural, untreated space that had real character for the recording.
"when I walk into any room that I’m potentially going to record in, I clap, just to hear what the reflections sound like, to listen to the space, too often the room sounds dead... it’s all about vibe...it’s not like I want some cathedral ceiling, all I want is somewhere that has clarity. "
The group decided to rent a house deep in the country near Tiller, Oregon and for five long days they recorded the songs.
"we moved all the furniture into this one room, the downstairs floor with the kitchen we turned into a recording studio. "
“What I really wanted to focus on for this record was to capture what we do live as a group, to recreate our live dynamic, while having control” which Dan did by tracking the album, recording the instruments on separate tracks and then layering them together. Dan finished the album at his home studio, known as Rent A Puppy Records, doing the mixing and the remaining components of the recording.
The songs of These Rolling Hills, written by Michael Henry, might seem fairly simple at first but the arrangements are complex. “We all had our hands on every song, Henry wrote the melody and lyrics, we arranged our parts." says Sherrill.
The mood of the album’s start, with the song Temperate Son, opens the heart like the sunrise, like waking up to a particular eventful day that perhaps you had been anticipating and step forward into courageously. It is evident in the tones of lead singer Michael Henry’s voice and the soft layered harmonies that what is being communicated here is sincere. The strings swell like waves of honey and are lovely and uplifting in a Horsefeathers type way. The song builds into its own landscape and after a wholesome double bass featured section performed by Jenica Smith, the piece deepens with some electric layers to boldly reach the edge of where you might not have thought the song would travel but once you are there it feels like quite the welcome exploration. A banjo politely trickles its way in to start the next tune, Over The Noz, an instrumental. With a spring in its step, this piece progresses from a Goat Rodeo Session type tune to a carefree bluegrass journey toward a magical land. The next song, Copper Wolf, delivers some down home grit along with some slapping bass, chunky guitar and a solid dobro performance by Gaur Groover. The album returns to its original sentiment with the title track, These Rolling Hills, a heartwarming and longing folk-hymn, a timeless stretch of the Americana highway that feels so familiar. From there we arrive at Cherokee Hill where we find its story supported by some creative classic electric guitar and poignant fiddle melodies by Hanna Winters.
Apollo feels strangely wonderful and with the magic that the well balanced voices deliver in the lyrics, it’s easy to appreciate the unique, creative melody and picturesque lyrics. The song splashes into electric guitar land until the peppery notes of another instrumental, American Mastodon, come jumping in like a refreshing river. The tight string-band interaction of the instruments here are really fun and feel like a sophisticated bluegrass celebration.
Weeds Amongst the Wheat and Ojai Pixie keep the traditional music heartbeat rolling with multiple flavors of bluegrass glory. Finally, Maria, a sweet, slow burn delivers stellar harmonies, Dan Sherrill’s lush telecaster and soaring fiddle.
Dan Sherrill of King Roy Wing
“We're excited to see what’s next ” Sherrill says.
After chatting more about songwriting, Dan and I walked over to his house and checked out his studio space and gear:
a glance at some of the equipment that Dan used to record These Rolling Hills
These Rolling Hills is a glistening picture of Americana. The album pumps like a mellow and full bodied river carving through an isolated range and all the while inviting the listener to plunge in the water and soak in the refreshing tributaries that spring up beneath rocks and join the waters wide.
Listen to the album here on Spotify :
learn more about King Roy Wing on their Website here :
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