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Natalie Jane Hill's new album is 'a thing of rare beauty,' and more local records

Natalie Jane Hill's new album is titled "Solely."

Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists. 

New releases

Natalie Jane Hill, “Solely” (Dear Life). Originally from Wimberley, Hill spent a few years in Georgia and North Carolina before moving to San Marcos a couple of years ago. “Solely,” her second album in as many years, is a thing of rare beauty — 10 enchanting folk songs set to minimal acoustic arrangements built around the guilelessly soothing tone of Hill’s voice.

In the face of a macro world, Hill goes micro, finding wonder in little visions like the web a spider spins: “Mighty and small, she spins her bed/ And the strands they shimmer with wind/ And I feel better, more than I ever did,” she sings on “Orb Weaver.” Echoes of half-century-old British folk masters Nick Drake and Sandy Denny float by on “Little Teeth,” with graceful touches of producer Jason Chronis’ vibraphone and key contributor Mat Davidson’s fiddle framing Hill’s pastoral observations: “The pearly white buds are falling from the sky/ Shaped like little teeth in the water floating by.”

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Elsewhere, Chronis plays autoharp, bass and percussion, while Davidson adds accents of pedal steel and keyboards. Other musicians on the album include cellists Tony Rogers and Sadie Wolfe, pianist Jared Van Fleet, pedal steel player Bob Hoffnar and percussionist Matt Simon. Everything is built around Hill’s gentle yet often sophisticated acoustic guitar picking.

Here’s the video for the title track:

Kris Schultz, “Standard Issue Heart.” Longtime Austinite Schultz spent years helping local artists such as David Garza, Jon Dee Graham and Guy Forsyth with merch sales, road managing and other behind-the-scenes tasks before deciding to write and record songs herself.

“Standard Issue Heart,” her debut album, features 10 singer-songwriter-oriented tunes drawing upon folk, rock and pop, recorded at local studio HooDoo with producer Charlie Richards, who also played electric guitars and lap steel. Other contributors include drummer Brian Christopher Mendes, bassist Palli, keyboardist Ron D’Argenio, and backing singers Kacy Crowley and Kristin deWitt.

Release show Oct. 31 at One-2-One Bar. Here’s the single “Hattertown Road”:

Recently released

Explosions in the Sky, “Big Bend (An Original Soundtrack for Public Television)” (Temporary Residence). An atmospheric instrumental outfit that released seven albums during the last two decades, Explosions in the Sky also is renowned for its work on TV and film projects, issuing several soundtrack recordings and writing music for high-profile shows such as “Friday Night Lights” and “One Tree Hill.”

Their latest such project is this 20-track set created to accompany “Big Bend: The Wild Frontier of Texas,” which premiered on PBS earlier this year. Band members Chris Hrasky, Michael James, Munaf Rayani and Mark Smith weave together evocative melodies and textures on acoustic guitar, slide guitar, strings, piano, bells and drums that echo the wide-open expanse of Texas’ crown-jewel national park, with titles such as “Chisos,” “Sunrise,” “Swimming” and “Big Horns.”

Here’s the track “Human History”:

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Live music picks:Tracy Lawrence in Cedar Park, Kool Keith at Antone's and more

Coming soon

NOV. 5: Matt the Electrician, “We Imagined an Ending,” release show Nov. 6 at 04 Center

NOV. 5: Colin Clark, “Here and There,” release show Nov. 13 at One-2-One Bar

NOV. 12: Jenn Hartmann Luck, “Raise Your Voices (Songs Celebrating the Kids Who Are Changing the World”), release show Nov. 14 at the Thinkery

NOV. 19: Willie Nelson Family, self-titled (Legacy)

NOV. 19: Wade Bowen, “Where Phones Don’t Work” EP

NOVEMBER: Walter Daniels & the Del Valle Trustees, “Have a Coffee Break With”

DEC. 2: Rick Furst, “The Riddle”

DEC. 3: Jason Boland & the Stragglers, “The Light Saw Me” (Thirty Tigers)

DEC. 3: Nori, self-titled

JAN. 14: Jamestown Revival, “Young Man” (Thirty Tigers)

JAN. 21: Whitmore Sisters, “Ghost Stories” (Red House)

FEB. 11: Spoon, “Lucifer on the Sofa” (Matador)

MAY: Lyle Lovett, title TBA (Verve)

More from Austin360 On The Record:

OCT. 22:Sue Foley, Hank Erwin, Ben Balmer

OCT. 8:Carolyn Wonderland, Go Fever, Invincible Czars

OCT. 1:Asleep at the Wheel, Strand of Oaks, Walter Hyatt tribute