Telling a Story

There are such artists such as Paige Hill who artfully tell a story through their music. Her debut EP, Good Woman, features five-songs and all the while Hill crafts heartfelt songs such as “No Sweetness, No Love.” Laugh, cry or muse over her songs, Hill’s music has the feel of ’70s-style country with a bit of soul, and contemporary rock and blues.

Interview Paige Hill 1 CD
Consider Hill’s Good Woman a good start, and one that shows this artist will be focused on craft and storytelling. Her songs will in turn bring many listeners closer to this artist and her music.

Jupiter Index: Can you share with us, what you think drives you to try new things in your music?
Paige Hill: For me, I’ll try anything that supports the narrative my song is telling. My songs are all closely based on my own life or those very close to me. So, any instrument, time signature change, arrangement change, or stylistic change that helps evoke an authentic emotion related to the experience I’m trying to tell… I’m open to anything new in my music, except for electronic tracks; I haven’t been open to that yet. One new thing we did for Good Woman was make an extended dance track to “Sticks and Stones” because we loved the intro dance break and ending so much that we extended those parts. Why not?!

JI: Tell us what new steps you took to make this E.P. record different.
PA: I’ve worked on other records that are guided by one distinct style or sound goal. When selecting the songs to include for this E.P., we decided to focus on the theme of a “Good Woman” instead of one specific style or sound. I looked at moments or ideas where I was struggling to be “good,” not measuring up, standing up for myself, judging myself, loving myself, and learning to love and let myself be loved. For each song, I wrote the music and lyrics, then worked with my producer, Guillermo Murillo, on the arrangements. We then cut all five tracks in the studio, where we let each song and each story guide the instrumentation. I think it made this record authentic and eclectic; everyone involved was really happy with our time in the studio and the final product. We kept many of my full tracks from the studio rather than overdubbing later because we felt the authentic delivery, perhaps even imperfect at times, superseded other competing vocal goals. We also used the same instrumentation on all tracks (pedal steel, drums, electric bass, electric guitar, B3) with a few exceptions, where we added some Melodica and saxophones. So even though the style is eclectic, it is rooted in Americana and harkens back to the 70s in a cohesive way.

JI: Describe some of the songs on your new record, “Good Woman.”
PA: All five songs are special to me and weave the story of a real woman. The title track, “Good Woman,” is based on a hard time in my life when my daughter was an infant and I struggled with alcoholism. Thankfully, I found the help and program I needed, and I am grateful to be recovered and living a full life and can be present for my family and community. On another extreme, “Easy Love” is a song I wrote for my daughter when she turned five, and I finished it shortly after a pregnancy loss. This song is bittersweet at parts, but it is honest and honors how much I love my daughter and my sweet little family. “Sticks and Stones,” I wrote for a friend as her ex was making her life miserable, dragging her name through the mud, and I didn’t know what else to do to help. So, I wrote this song out of that frustration, hoping it could somehow empower her and other women going through a similar experience. These three songs span from desperation and addiction to a mother’s unbridled love, to the brick-bouncing off-skin toughness being a woman sometimes requires.

JI: Can you share with us why you are excited by the "No Sweetness, No Love" track?
PA: “No Sweetness, No Love” is dear to me in a million ways, and I’m fascinated by how it resonates with so many people in different ways. The song was inspired from a minor tantrum my 5-year-old threw, where she sobbed and exclaimed, “I didn’t get any sweetness, and I didn’t get any love today.” As a busy mother trying to love my child and give her the best, that not only hurt but spoke to my greatest fear: that daughters can be hard on mothers and that she’d grow up questioning the depths of my love for her. That kid got an extra hug, and I said an extra prayer that day before writing this song. There is a redemptive element to this song that I have found a lot of hope in when those fears creep into my mothering.

JI: Talk about your musical influences for this record.
PA: I am strongly influenced by the sound of early 1970s Laurel Canyon folk-rock artists and groups and 70’s country singers like Bonnie Raitt, and Linda Ronstadt. Modern Americana groups, my favorite Dallas bands, and some of my favorite southern artists like Lucinda Williams also influence my writing and sound. We also drew inspiration from Motown records and soul. I often feel I was born in the wrong era, loving the music from my parents' records and cassettes. I’m primarily a vocalist and songwriter, and as a result, I’m very open-minded when it comes to what we try in the studio and when we’re finalizing the arrangements. The fellow musicians in my band and on the record have very broad musical tastes, which also helps shape the sounds in my record.

JI: Once Judy Collins said, “I refuse to let anyone, or anything take my attention away from salvation.” How do you define salvation? Is it in your music?
PA: I love Judy Collin’s, and I love that quote. I did grow up singing in church, and I still do regularly. For me, salvation is when I’m restored to oneness with my creator. The only thing that gets in the way of oneness is me and my ego. As I have grown and matured (slowly), I have come to realize that no one else or any circumstance gets in the way of me and God except me. When I feel separated from God, it is when I am reacting to something with fear, anger, or resentment, and it is in those moments I know, and trust God can restore me. This shows up in my songs, like in “No Sweetness, No Love” with the line “help me, if I just believe one touch of your cloak and you’d set me free. I want to be patient, I want to be good, and love my dear child like a good woman should.” And “ God help me on days when I’m not enough.”

JI: Would you like to add anything else?
PA: I’m just incredibly grateful that wonderful musicians help me create my music, that my students and other kind people listen and support my art, and that anyone who is moved in any way by what was a passion project of mine is incredible. I’ve always been supported by my family and community singing in school and church, but recording and performing regionally has been a great experience that I’m relishing.

by G.M. Burns