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A Deep Dive Into Foster Hilding’s Cinematic Sophomore Album

Photo by Kailee Schoeff

From Phoenix, Arizona, singer-songwriter and self-taught musician Foster Hilding bestows his highly anticipated 12-track sophomore album entitled The Summer That Dried The Well.

Born in 2002, Hilding first dove into music at 12 after picking up a guitar, leading him to write music and perform at small venues with other musicians. After releasing his debut album, Kinds, in 2020, Foster Hilding spent the next two years attempting to create a record he was confident in.

After scrapping all sorts of songs and ideas, Foster Hilding is finally blessing listeners with his 14-track sophomore album, The Summer That Dried The Well.

The album opens with the introductory track, "The Quickest Form of Escape is Always Through," in which we can already tell this record will bless us with a cinematic listening experience. While the song opens with dreary grunge electric guitars picking their way at our hearts, Foster Hilding quickly ramps up the energy and power to represent the peaks and valleys of his emotions and the tumultuous journey to clarity. It's an excellent song and an even better album opener.

"Bleeding" into track number two, Foster Hilding sparks fire with his piercing rock instrumentals that set the energetic and aggressive tone. Hilding's lyrics are nothing short of gripping; he explains a situation where he never wants to see someone again, giving up on them through and through. It's an anthemic track that flames through the speakers with a feisty alternative rock attitude.

On the album's third track, "My Body is the Base of a Mountain," Foster Hilding turns things down a notch with his melancholy electric guitar melodies and tender vocals. He uses this song to express the highs and lows of a relationship and the cycle he's caught himself in. It's an incredibly dynamic listening experience and a cathartic one that feels like a breath of rejuvenating fresh air.

Maintaining that deep and heavy vibe is the fourth track, "As it Slips Through Your Fingers," kicking off with a warm bass line that leads into a rippling rock blast-off. The many transitions in this song are impressive, from the blistering rock instrumentals to the intricate electric guitar twinkling through the speakers. The song's cinematic and roaring outro leaves us basking in the palpable passion Foster Hilding has to offer.

Another introspective and ethereal intro greets the ears on track number five, "Every Yesterday is a Rabbit Hole," which floats through the speakers with crunchy electric guitar melodies that gradually lead into a cathartic rock breakdown. Foster Hilding's faint and distant vocals serenade us with softness while he dives into the rabbit hole that is yesterday. It's a reflective and dynamic track that truly showcases Foster Hilding's emotional range.

Traveling into what is perhaps the most personal song on the album is track number six, "The Ditch Between The Road," where Foster Hilding only sings a few lines but impactful ones. The melancholy electric guitar, alongside his airy vocals, expresses the deepest sorrows he experiences while he slowly builds the energy and anticipation to unleash it all. The gradual build-up to the rage-packed outro is top-tier.

Landing on the seventh track, "Your Cologne Stains the Fridge Like Mold," Foster Hilding moves into a more poetic and spoken-word approach. His blazing instrumentals follow while pummeling our speakers with all sorts of rage and angst that leaves us locked into the cathartic experience. The transitions into the reflective outro end the song on a profoundly vulnerable note that peaks deeper into Foster Hilding's thoughts.

Reaching the album's second half with track number eight, "American English," Foster Hilding and his accompanying instrumentals waste no time and pounce through our speakers from the jump. This mainly-instrumental song packs tons of highs and lows, ripping the speakers in half with metal-influenced guitars that lead into a faint vocal appearance from Foster Hilding. The piercing outro takes us back into the thrilling rock instrumentals Foster Hilding has clearly mastered.

In the album's ninth track, "Insolent Little Shit," Foster Hilding takes on a more straightforward approach with nothing but his acoustic guitar and microphone. While expressing the toll this angry and hateful person had on him, Hilding doesn't beat around the bushes and makes his hatred known. It's an honest and blunt song that dives even deeper into Foster Hilding's personal life.

Ramping up the grim grunge energy is track number ten, Echoes of a New Day," dancing through the speakers with a haunting yet dreamy Nirvana-esque sound. It doesn't take long for Foster Hilding to pump his fiery rock instrumentals through our speakers to increase the emotion and power. The dynamic back and forth pushes us to the song's end while Foster Hilding's distant vocals play in the background like the "Echoes of a New Day."

On the eleventh track, "Exodus," Foster Hilding leaves it to his instrumentals to tell the story. The gloomy acoustic guitar melts through our speakers while distant electric guitar plucking begins to dance in the background. It's a sweet and lush instrumental that sees no sights of rock anywhere, just a pure array of emotional guitars that serenade the soul.

Leaping into what might be the most vulnerable song on the album, "I Wish That I Could Tell You I Love You," Foster Hilding releases those long-held thoughts he has about someone special. The warm acoustic guitar gradually leads into the tender alternative hook while Foster Hilding paints various passionate scenes with his sincere lyrics. It's quite a refreshing song that helps us hear a different, softer side of his artistry.

The album's thirteenth track, "Emptiness," doesn't hold back. It's a ten-minute deep-dive into Foster Hilding's thoughts that circle back to various other tracks on the album. Again, Hilding does an excellent job of keeping the listeners engaged with his dynamic and wide-ranging instrumentals, all while leaving us locked into his conceptual lyrics. He's made it clear in many songs that he will never forgive this particular person. Ouch.

Landing on the fourteenth and final track, "Pa," Foster Hilding closes the album with his smooth acoustic guitar and whispery, airy vocals. While expressing the passing through the gates and having infinite wisdom and regrets, he punctures hearts everywhere with an incredibly emotional and surreal lyricism that makes you think twice. It's an excellent way to close such a dynamic and thoughtful album.

Experience the highs, lows, peaks, and valleys that Foster Hilding shares with us on his 14-track sophomore album, The Summer That Dried The Well, now available on all digital streaming platforms.

Photo by Kailee Schoeff

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Foster Hilding. What inspired you to create such a dynamic and personal album like The Summer That Dried The Well? What was the main concept behind this project?

In terms of inspiration, this album is built on a lot of personal experiences I had between 2020 and late 2021. My parents had gotten divorced, my grandfather had passed away, and during the summer of 2021, I felt as if I was growing further and further away from myself and my family every day, my father especially. I let go of many people in my life in some form or another, and many of my relationships entered into new stages. The complexities and emotions of becoming an adult and leaving home for the first time are very strong themes throughout the album as well. I think with a lot of this in mind, just the context of my life in general at the time of writing was the concept for this project if any.

Why did you scrap the first album you created and choose to release this, The Summer That Dried The Well? What made you feel more confident in this album?

I scrapped the first version of a sophomore album because it was recorded at a pretty dark and chaotic point in my life, all within the first few months of my life, in the first months of 2020 and COVID. All of the demos I made for that draft were made in Bitwig, the same DAW I had used for Kinds, I Won’t Give Up On Myself Anymore, and basically anything before The Summer. What ended up happening is I made this entire album that I really liked, but it was all over the place. Not saying that any of my other projects, including TSTDTW, aren’t, but it was all off and didn’t meet my vision. I recorded a demo for The Ditch Between The Roads (this name changed a few times, swapping the second ‘the’ for a ‘two’ and back and forth) at some point in late 2020, and I fell in love with sort of the sound I had struck. From the moment I started working on any idea of a second album, I knew that I wanted it to be dark, the darkest thing I could think of or try to create with my limited production knowledge and skill, and this was exactly what I needed. By the time I had released my compilation album, Leaving Behind, which includes the entire sophomore album draft in some form or another, it was set in stone that it would be left behind. After I had switched to Logic Pro, the real work on TSTDTW began, and I knew I had something interesting, dark, and just cool. Finally, something I believed in and actually liked and would listen to. I’d still love to go back and remake that first draft into its own real album and complete whatever vision I had for it, but that’s for another time.

What artists, genres, or sounds might have influenced you when creating The Summer That Dried The Well? Did any external sources have an impact on this album?

There were an insane amount of influences for this album that range from all over the place. Groups like Have a Nice Life, Deftones, and The Smashing Pumpkins greatly influenced tracks like The Quickest Form of Escape is Always Through, Echoes of a New Day, etc. For some of the slower tracks, such as Your Cologne Stains the Fridge Like A Mold, I Wish That I Could Tell You That I Love You, and The Dutch Between the Roads, I took huge inspiration from Duster and Slint. Planning for Burial and Grouper were heavily in my listening rotation at this time, too, as you can see in songs like My Body is the Base of a Mountain, Exodus, and emptiness to some extent. American English was a track I recorded very early on during a Daughters phase. Production and tone-wise, I was very much inspired by Nothing, a band that has quickly become one of my favorites of all time. This album is just really a personalized playlist of my favorite bands and artists in one huge conglomerate.

Is there a song that means the most to you on The Summer That Dried The Well? Why does that song stand out to you?

This is an extremely difficult question. My Body is the Base of a Mountain is one of my favorite things I’ve made, and it perfectly encapsulates my feelings on prenatal and the weight of existence, so it will always hold a very dear place in my heart. If I had to choose one, though, Emptiness means the most to me. It’s a culmination of all the hard work I have put into this album, with a heavy, bone-crushing shoegaze ending that I will never stop loving. What makes this song special to me is that the original demo was less than half the length, ending right after the doom-metal section. What I added was an homage to all the themes in the album, the chanting of ‘I don’t forgive you over the name of the album itself, and the faint quotes from Echoes of a New Day. I wanted it to be like a theatre musical finale that brings in all the precious motifs and merges them into a powerful singular end.

What do you want your audience to take away from such a dynamic album like The Summer That Dried The Well?

I really don’t know. This is such a difficult question for me because I know as an artist, there’s somewhat of a responsibility to have a positive impact on society and give some sort of perspective on something, just anything at all. But really, that’s just not what this album’s about. All this is a personal journey that I have made.


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