After performing and recording with The Snow throughout NYC for six years, I joined The Bushwick Book Club - which invites musicians to read selected work, then to write and perform songs inspired by those works. Within a couple of years, I had a handful of songs I wanted to arrange for a band.
A few of the tracks were originally co-written and performed with Dylan Nowik - a musician and composer, himself - who helped record, performed on and mixed the album. The other half were composed independently of the book club - ten was the magic number that warranted a recording project. The band was comprised of many long-time musical friends, who recorded the album on a beautiful leafy hilltop in Putnam County, New York in June of 2016.
Among the collection are a meditation on the making of an omelette, inspired by the Bossa Nova tradition and Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking;" a plaintive country shuffle about an earthquake; and a gypsy jazz ode to a charming man who couldn't get his shit together, inspired by Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
The songs give voice to an inward journey, as evoked by the natural world - including the human animals within it. The album as a whole represents this journey as one completed cycle of the self.
released January 28, 2017
“Secrets of Birds”
Matt Brandau: electric bass, upright bass
Mike Cohen: guitar
Hilary Downes: vocals, piano, percussion
lead guitar on “The Owl” and “The Gist”
additional guitar on “Masters of the Table” and “The Word”
backing vocals on “Deep Well” and “The Word”
Karl Meyer: violin
Jeffrey Schaeffer: drums
Sara Stalnaker: cello
Pierre de Gaillande: percussion on “Hearts Plateau”
Recorded by Pierre de Gaillande and Dylan Nowik at California Hill Studios in Carmel, New York, and by Dylan Nowik at The Dekalb Palace in Brooklyn, New York.
Mixed by Dylan Nowik
Mastered by Chicky Reeves at Sublime Recording Studios, London, UK
Photos by Naomi White
Assisted by Ethan Christy
Styling by Laura Escalante
Hair and Makeup by Katie Wedlund
Album Design by John Leamy
Photos shot at California Hill, Carmel, New York, 2016
All songs by Hilary Downes (c 2017 BMI)
“The Gist,” music and lyrics by Hilary Downes and Dylan Nowik
"Masters of the Table" music by Hilary Downes and Dylan Nowik
“The Word,” music by Hilary Downes and Dylan Nowik