Chris Hill: Bass
I’ve known Chris for about fifteen years. His legacy as a jazz legend and motorised scooterer loomed large when I arrived at University. Before long, I’d somehow enlisted him to play in my folk band, Elephant Juice, and in turn, he enlisted me to sing in his rock band, Enamel. Enamel was a very special band, from which I developed some very special friendships and which spawned some thumping rock nuggets. I believe that you can get a pretty good measure of someone by the quality of the people you meet through them. Chris also introduced me to Justin Quinn, of course.
Chris is an outstanding bass player and a sensitive, intuitive musician of the highest calibre. The space and freedom he allowed me in his shed studio was boundless and allowed me to f*ck up countless times without feeling too bad about it. His credits as a bass player are numerous and distinguished, and I have a feeling that his credits as a producer will soon surpass them.
Jessie May Smart: Violin
Photograph © Darren Bell
The first time I really heard Jessie play, I nearly spat out whatever I was drinking. I was a guest in her home and she was practising while her beau and I talked nonsense in the living room, as we are wont to do. She has an exceptionally warm, generous tone, very much in keeping with her personality. I’m honoured that she took the time to come and play on ‘Eclogue’ and ‘Father’s Day’, which she utterly completes. We provided no written parts, just pointed in a vague direction, and let Jessie spin her web.
‘Father’s Day’ is clearly a song about Dads, and there’s a poignancy which I can’t ignore in the fact that my much-missed Stepfather was a huge Steeleye Span fan (Jessie is their violinist, nowadays). I reckon my Dad was, too, judging from the Amazing Blondel record I have from his collection. They’d have both been bowled over by what Jessie does, as we all are.
Justin Quinn: Spanish Guitar & Laud
My friend, Cordelia, used to tease me mercilessly about my fan-crush on Justin Quinn. This was at a time when I had only just met Justin, having been in thrall of his Bakehouse record for some time, thanks to Leon Barron (of Enamel fame). He now knows, as others do, that I’m a bit of a guitarist geek, and that he never had a chance once I’d made the connection. Just the fact that we’ve ever made any music together at all still gives me the shivers. He graced my band, The Silver Lining, with some silken lap steel playing; he let me sing with The Teak Project on more than one occasion; we brought The Wealden into life, for goodness sake! And who better than he to bring a much-needed taste of Spain to ‘The World’s Widow’. I’ll put this guy’s playing on anything I do.
Treehouse is Chris Hill’s shed, in truth. As you can see, he’s stuffed it to the gills with enough vintage recording equipment to make even the most seasoned gear-heads weak at the knees. You can’t move in there, sure, but once you’re in, you don’t want to get out. We recorded all of the basic tracks (guitar & vocal) to tape, while any overdubs were divided between tape and digital. By now, you might be able to tell that I don’t know much about recording gear… I basically just do as I’m told and put my trust in good people. It’s worked out pretty well, thus far.