The Jon Hill Project
Release Date: January 11, 2019
Review by Jared Stossel
We all experience tumultuous periods of unrest in our lives: break-ups or divorces can occur. Addiction can take over in one form or another. Depression sets in. Sometimes, these things all happen at once. In the case of percussionist/songwriter Jon Hill, all of these afflictions happened within the same period. He struggled with addiction, the nine-year marriage he held with makeup artist Jaclyn Hill resulted in divorce, and hopelessness set in. He struggled for quite some time. Hill is forthright about these situations in recent interviews, but the brutal sense of honesty and understanding of this time period can most comprehensively be found on Rebirth, the eleven-track debut album for his solo endeavor, The Jon Hill Project. Each track gives a little bit of a glimpse into these moments and struggles in Hill's life, holding nothing back. Hill blends stylings of indie, alternative, and post-rock together to form an emotionally vulnerable album. Ghosts of the past haunt this record, and it's clear from the moment that "Would You Save Me Now?", the first track featuring Aaron Marsh of Copeland on vocals, beckons listeners into its world.
Hill recruited eleven different vocalists for this project (one for each track, respectively), and it brings something uniquely different to this type of solo endeavor. It's almost as if Hill acts as playwright, while vocalists like Marsh, Tillian Pearson (Dance Gavin Dance), Nate Barcalow (Finch), Donovan Melero (Hail The Sun), Michael McGough (Being As An Ocean), and many others are cast as actors in the play of his memories, bringing their own individualistic sensibilites to the different stories and the emotional baggage that comes with it. An astounding trademark of these eleven songs, though, is Hill's ability to make each track as catchy and memorable as they are emotionally exposing. The hook to "Grey's Gift" and "Same Old Song", among others, have stayed with me for weeks since I first heard the album, in addition to the emotional resonance that comes attached to them. It's a powerful trait for a songwriter to wield, and one that Hill carries well.
Hill's debut solo project is one that requires multiple listens. There's a lot to digest here, sonically, lyrically, and emotionally, but multiple listens pay off rewardingly. You get an insight into the mind of someone who is open to talking about his struggles, particularly with addiction, and the hopeless feelings that one encounters when struggling. The bottom line, though, is that you're not alone, and Hill proves that you can always come out strong on the other side.
The Jon Hill Project