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Sophie Hutchings – Echoes In The Valley (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Sophie Hutchings – Echoes In The Valley (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 00:40:10 minutes | 730 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Mercury KX

After a whirlwind 2020, with almost every artists’ musical endeavours being put on hold, Sophie Hutchings made the best of a bad situation, and now we are presented with her album Echoes in the Valley. The original plan for Sophie’s latest release was to record in Nils Frahm’s studio in Berlin, however, the pandemic had other plans. Instead, Sophie returned to her home of Australia and spent a week in the Byron Hinterland. The Hinterland is a stretch of rolling hills and untouched bush inland from Byron Bay, Australia’s most eastern point. Sprinkled throughout the Hinterland are hiking trails, waterfalls and quaint towns, those typical of a Banjo Patterson poem. After being presented with an unfamiliar piano in a shack in the middle of nowhere, over three short days Hutching’s got to work creating the masterpiece that is Echoes in the Valley.

Without even knowing the story behind the location or the piano, from the first track ‘Along the Boundary’ you are instantly transported to another world. The natural soundfloor of the bush outside, coupled with the mechanics of the piano, make you feel like you’re right there inside the piano, as Sophie’s floating, meditative melodies swirl around you. Being presented with an unconventional piano to record an entire album on can be daunting, but in true Australian fashion, Sophie ran with it and turned it into something beautiful. In conversation she mentioned, “There were a few little weird characteristics of the piano that were bothering me, and I was like, okay… I’ve got to make this thing work. It’s funny, initially, I was a bit stressed about the personality of the piano, even after it had been tuned, but strangely with the environment and the setting, I was like, this is going to tell a story.” And tell a story it does, it reflects the story of the year that the world stopped.

The album flows seamlessly and transports you to another, more calm world than that of our own, whilst still providing plenty of emotional depth. The track ‘Billow Gently’ is contemplative and even mournful, whereas ‘I Used to Live Here’ is earnest, with the arpeggiated left hand, which sits just below the sound of the right, reminiscent of cinematic classic Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission. On a track like ‘The Lighthouse’, the natural creaks and clicks of the piano create an almost metronomic sensation that pushes the piece forward, grounding the aerial melody lines before evolving into the perfect accompaniment for Glass-like repetitive motives.

Echoes in the Valley rounds out with ‘Hold My Hand’, a contemplative and quietly optimistic track. The repeated motive would’ve been a fine ending to this closing track, however, the final rising line leaves us with bated breath, hoping for just a drop more of what Sophie has to offer. – Jessica Porter-Langson

1 Along The Boundary
2 Billow Gently
3 The Lighthouse
4 Changing Tides
5 Promise Of Sun
6 Empty City
7 I Used To Live Here
8 Written In The Sand
9 Through The Dim Veil Of Sleep
10 Paper Limbs
11 Hold My Hand


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