My first thoughts when taking a listen to the debut album Running Around A Hill by James Southwick was that the music is perfect to play for getting to sleep. I don’t say that in a bad way at all. The second song entitled “Lullaby” seems to indicate that Southwick is quite well aware of that fact.
The songs on Running Around A Hill all revolve around piano. The tone and texture of the notes is soft, warm and relaxing. Suffice it say that's all you really need to know about this album because it doesn’t deviate from that sound. In fact I would argue that these songs could easily just be one long track.
The album opens with “Home...Away From Home.” As soft as the overall feel is to the song it is also dynamic. Some of the louder parts come in a little more than halfway through the song but slowly get softer towards the end. The dynamic range is arguably a little too much and it may have benefited from some very light compression.
“Lullaby” is tranquil, a bit nostalgic and like “Home...Away From Home” displays the exceptional piano skills from Southwick. “Girl In A Red Dress” is a very soft song with space being the other element that makes the song work. It has a contemplative tone that has a hint of melancholy. “Running Around A Hill” brings a little more energy to the album while “Yesterdays” is a sixteen-minute song and could be considered the centerpiece.
“Yesterdays” to me was an emotionally resonant song that more so than anything that came before it mixed beauty and melancholy. Southwick closes with an alternative version of “Home...Away From Home.”
There isn’t a whole lot more that needs to be said about Running Around A Hill. It’s not something you'll be very likely to be listening to on a Friday night to get some energy but it works very well on a Sunday morning with some coffee in your hands staring out a window with a good view.
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