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Addiction is a terrible, life-ruining disease that can tear apart families and relationships in a very short amount of time. If someone that you love has ever gone through this painful process, then you know first-hand just how stressful and hurtful – for all of those involved – that the experience can be. In Jon Hill’s case, he was the addict. In fact, his addiction got so bad that it ripped apart his almost decade long marriage to popular makeup artist and YouTube star, Jaclyn Hill. However, Jon has been able to overcome these mountains in front of him, get clean and sober, and has also made some incredible music about these experience in the process. To do this, Jon created his new creative outlet, The Jon Hill Project, a collaborative effort with critically acclaimed producer Spencer Bradham and Tides Of Man guitarist, Spencer Gill. After writing some songs with the pair, Hill recruited a multitude of vocalists from the post-hardcore and post-rock genres in order to create one of the finest musical pieces I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in recent memory: ‘Rebirth‘.
In many ways, ‘Rebirth‘ is exactly is what it is described to be; a rebirth for Jon and his fight to achieve happiness after such dark times. On his journey to wellness, he worked hard in the studio with his collaborators and thus created this amazing LP. The record is brilliant in pretty much every way, in my mind, and it shines bright full of creativity and talent. The instrumentation in particular on ‘Rebirth‘ is exceptional, with each song having its own unique sound and niche to the overall piece. Songs like ‘Take The Next Step‘ and ‘Flat Line‘ create a tone of serenity, almost like you’re floating atop a cloud. The ambience and atmosphere achieved on tracks like this is something to behold, summoning intense imagery just through something as simple as a clean guitar riff. ‘Take The Next Step‘ specifically stands out as one of the best, with its urgent drum beats and dreamy guitars carrying the energy in and out as the melodies weave deeper and deeper. And the album’s ambience is built up so incredibly well, even picking up real energy at times.
‘Drifting Towards The Sun‘ sounds like something straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, with its slight western twang and addictive whistling. It carries a distinctive groove that’ll make you move, as it pushes its way through to a perfectly placed tempo change as the song arrives at its emotional climax. ‘Hang ‘Em High‘ is the most energetic and heaviest track on ‘Rebirth‘, almost sounding like something out of Brand New’s ‘Daisy‘. This cut features a chorus that bursts with explosiveness and heaviness, continuing onto the albums one and only breakdown, which is perfectly executed with screamed vocals and hard-hitting drum patterns.
Another huge highlight is the wonderfully poppy closer, ‘Same Old Song‘, featuring Dance Gavin Dance’s Tilian Pearson on vocals. (Tilian also stepped out into the solo pop world earlier this year too). The track features ambient synths and soft guitar tones intertwining with an interesting combination of both electronic and live drums. The genre changes across this album happen frequently, but never enough to make it feel disjointed or weak. One minute you’re listening to a post-rock, late-Thrice styled record, and the next you’re listening to something that sounds like a toned down Manchester Orchestra album. And I love that!
The lyricism of ‘Rebirth‘ comes from a deep place of sorrow and despair, written mostly about Jon’s addiction and how it so grossly affected his marriage. Despite some of the songs sounding poppy, happy and upbeat in many parts, the lyrics remain quite somber and depressed throughout. When lead single ‘Would You Save Me Now‘ dropped, many believed it to be symbolic of Jon’s self-restoration, and this remains evident throughout the rest of the record. The lyrics have, of course, been Jon’s way of getting better and talking about things that most people would leave on the inside.
“I’ve walked enough to know that I can make it another three feet” says Jon on ‘Drinking And Cleaning‘, talking openly about his perseverance. ‘Lesson Learned In Seconds‘ deals with the vice-grip of addiction around a relationship’s neck with lines like “if this disturbance doesn’t take me away, then I will treasure every random moment we get”. ‘Take The Next Step‘ deals with exactly what it is titled after, taking the first step towards a regular life after experiencing life-altering events; “Tracing down the path I’ve left, too afraid to take the next step” remains one of my favourite lines. ‘Drifting Towards The Sun‘ proves that love can still be present after a separation, with Jon writing that “may the air that fills your lungs be the wind that sails you home”, speaking about his ex-wife, Jaclyn. The lyrics here are all born from a similar theme; picking up the pieces of a life that’s been shattered by one of the worst diseases imaginable. And it’s delivered so genuinely and so passionately that it’s nearly impossible not to embrace it.
‘Rebirth’ is one of the best records I’ve heard in years – truly! When listening through it multiple times over while taking notes and constructing this here review, I honestly couldn’t find anything worthy of critique. Maybe you will, but I personally cannot find anything at fault here. Jon Hill’s debut album is outstanding in every single way in my eyes. The overall tone of inner-restoration after personal destruction flows perfectly well with the swelling and ambient music; creating an extremely enticing piece that is emotionally thrilling from start to finish. The essence of ambience is captured perfectly, with the majority of ‘Rebirth’ creating some truly powerful imagery and engrossing atmosphere. I cannot tell you all how happy I am that I stumbled upon this amazing record, as it’s since become a personal favourite of mine. This is gonna remain in my listening library for a very long time. What a record!
- Would You Save Me Now
- Grey’s Gift
- Lesson Learned in Seconds
- Take the Next Step
- Drifting Towards the Sun
- Show You the Stars
- Hang ‘Em High
- Take Me Up
- Drinking and Cleaning
- Flat Line
- Same Old Song
‘Rebirth’ is out January 11th.