The Northwest of the United States: Home of “The Soft Hills”. For the music fan, the area has always been a wellspring of pure joy. Punk was invented there in the 1960s (The Wailers, The Sonics), Jimi Hendrix was born there, K Records, one of the most influential indie labels of all time, was baptized there, then came Sub Pop, Mudhoney, Nirvana. “Something is right in the State of Washington” might be a suitable modification of the Hamlet quotation.
But: Where there is light, there is shadow. So excellent is the music that has emerged to conquer the world from Seattle, Olympia, et cetera – and so dreary the weather: Rain and more rain. That can dampen your spirit and damage your health. This painful experience is all too well known to Garrett Hobba, songwriter, singer, guitarist, and mastermind of the Soft Hills. Soaked through from continuous precipitation, his room began to molder, with the result that Hobba fell seriously ill. After several hospital stays brought no relief, Hobba gathered his belongings and headed down to Southern California for a few months of recuperation. Is this to be heard on the album? Absolutely! “Departure” convinces through contrasts that can clearly be linked to the different geographical conditions: The harmonies and colors of Southern California on one side, and the dark, monochromatic light of a rainy day in Seattle on the other. Golden light here, then shadows. A kind of sad euphoria. Or in other words: Beauty in a dark world.