Pandemic panic has overcome most of us over the last year and a half, but when it hit singer-songwriter Forrest Hill, he decided to funnel all of that negative energy into a positive exercise. Enter his brand new album, Only Love, due out on January 28th, and its first single “Life Flows On,” a rousing, bright coloured, hand-clapping modern folk song about processing fear, anger, aggression, hatred, and sadness, all of which Hill was feeling a lot of at the time it was written.
With the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and the circus that surrounded the 2020 presidential election, Hill needed something to calm himself down. Songwriting ended up being the magic potion, and he rode the wave to some of the best songs he’s ever recorded. There’s a Celtic feel to “Life Flows On,” reminiscent of the great folk artists, past and present, such as Paul Simon, The Avett Brothers, and Mumford & Sons.
Commenting on the song, Hill said, “I wrote ‘Life Flows On’ at the beginning of the pandemic. I had started doing live videos from home to post on my social media and had set a goal of writing a new song every week. I was feeling very anxious at the time and the lyrics to ‘Life Flows On’ came to me in a dream one night (cliché I know, but true). I was being inundated with a lot of negative thoughts like fear, anger, and sadness, which felt overwhelming. The vision that came to me is that all these feelings are just stories, and I can give them as much or as little power as I choose. The chorus is a reminder that fear and sadness are transitory, and we are free in any moment to incline our heart towards our highest intentions
“I recorded the song a year later (February 2021) at Tiny Telephone Studios in Oakland during the height of the COVID outbreak. During the recording sessions, masks and social distancing protocols were mandatory and only musicians working directly on the project were allowed in the studio. The music arrangement was a collaboration between myself and producer/multi-instrumentalist Christopher Thomas, who I began working with remotely in the summer of 2020. One of the cool parts Christopher came up with for ‘Life Flows On’ is a driving banjo riff that pops in and out throughout the song. Combined with drummer Jason Slota’s thumping drum part, the overall effect is a kind of a Mumford & Sons meets The Avett Brothers feel. Perfect for releasing anxiety.”
Prior to the pandemic arriving, Hill was determined not to record a fourth solo album. He was ready to move on to new challenges when everything went to hell in a handbasket, and on top of all of that, his father passed away. Seeking an outlet for his anxiety and his sorrow, the songs started to come, which are lyrically very much inspired by his state of mind at the time. Many of them explore some of the more pronounced psychological demons that lead to so much anguish in the world, with Hill promoting a more positive state of mind to benefit ourselves and others.
Despite the dark place from where they come, Hill reworked the lyrics many times to inject a certain sense of hope into them. It may have been unplanned, but sometimes our best efforts are the ones we didn’t exhaustively plot out. For Forrest Hill, the beauty of spontaneity is shining through on Only Love.