A largely introspective work that is touched by darkness but ultimately retains hope.
As a founding member of Hiss Golden Messenger, Hirsch played a leading role in the band’s early years in the studio and touring. He continues to produce the band, having also recorded and mixed ‘Follow The Music’, the Grammy-nominated record by the folk-singer, Alice Gerrard. Hirsch’s studio experience clearly shines through on this album with every track evidencing careful crafting, whilst not losing a sense of spontaneity that can plague studio production. Recorded in his own studio in the Ojai valley near LA, the Pandemic gave Hirsch the time and space he needed to conceive of and record these songs. An overarching masterplan seems to pervade that considers how each song segues into the next creating an overall structure that explores themes of darkness and light.
The opening track, ‘Spirit Time’ greets the listener with a drum machine which in short-order is augmented by a soulful brass section and Hammond organ. . ‘Much too Late’ demonstrates strong overtones of JJ Cale and Mark Knopfler both in vocal tones and rhythmic structure. Carolyn Dennis makes an appearance on backing vocals as she did on Dylan’s ‘Slow Train Coming’ and his other albums of that era. ‘Slow Train Coming’ also featured Mark Knopfler which creates a theme of circularity in terms of this album’s influences. The track has a real Muscle Shoals vibe though of course recorded a long way from that particular music Mecca. ‘Dreamer’ could have been recorded by Lennon whose voice echoes through Hirsch’s vocals on this track which is slow, soulful and pedal-steel infused. JJ Cale’s influences bring the perfect shuffle beat, blues progression to,‘ Big Passenger’ with a touch of zing that might seem slightly out of character with Cale’s more laid-back approach. ‘Red Stone’ is one of three instrumentals featured, in this case generating a moody, slightly uneasy feeling that stays with you long after the track has faded. ‘Wolves’ leavens the mood which has a Nashville Gospel feel and is described by Hirsh as, “Talking about if you’re gonna fall, you’ve got to fall up—make your mistakes count in a way that’s helpful for you.” Dreamy acoustic guitar both feature on, ‘Drummer of Shiloh’ and, ‘Love is Long’ bringing the listener to the end of a journey that started with soul-influenced meditation, traversing through gospel, country and blues influences.
Worthy of listening to at a single sitting, ‘Windless Day’ is a largely introspective work that is touched by darkness but ultimately retains hope; its production values, varied instrumentation and worthy musical influences make it a pleasure to spend time with.