The Hill Figs Tap into the Appalachian Sound with Their Debut Album ‘Lost Love and Home’

by Clayton Edwards
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For many country music fans, the Hill Figs’ debut album Lost Love and Home came out of nowhere. However, folks in Eastern Kentucky and Southern Indiana had been waiting on it to drop for quite some time. They were already familiar with Tyler Hood’s songwriting and storytelling as well as Collie Crawford’s guitarwork. Now, it’s time for the rest of the nation to catch up.

Sonically, Lost Love and Home calls to mind artists like Ian Noe, Logan Halstead, and Cole Chaney in that it has a dark Appalachian edge to it. However, I don’t get a sense that they were trying to replicate anyone’s sound here. Make no mistake, this record is pure Hill Figs from start to finish.

“Better Way to Fly”

The heart of the album, though, is Tyler Hood’s songwriting. His stories are working-class epics that delve into the darker parts of Small-Town America in a way that lets you know he’s lived the words he’s singing.

Recently, Outsider caught up with Hill Figs founding members Tyler Hood and Collie Crawford to talk about the road to their debut album.

We Can Thank Craigslist for Lost Love and Home

Before forming the Hill Figs, Tyler and Collie met through a Craigslist ad. “Collie had put a Craigslist ad for someone who was close to his age and liked a similar type of music and likes to play guitar,” Tyler hood recalled. “I had just downloaded the Craigslist app that day. I answered the ad and we met in Louisville downtown where he used to live. We played for a few hours that afternoon and became friends after that.”

Early Days of the Hill Figs

Hood said that after some time, Tyler and Collie formed the Hill Figs and started playing in small venues and doing open mics. Then, they booked a show at a canoe rental place in Milltown, Indiana. That’s where they met local honky tonk musician Brady Evan who invited Collie and Tyler to play a few shows with them. Later, his rhythm section joined Crawford and Hood.

Evan helped the duo book a wedding gig. While there, his drummer and bassist joined Tyler and Collie onstage. “While we were playing – we were into our second song – we started hearing something behind us and the drummer from [Evan’s] band had stepped up and his bass player stepped up. That was the first time we played as a full band. We did that for four or five songs. Those two gentlemen, Jordan and Adam, eventually became the rhythm section for the Hill Figs.”

Creating the Sound

Collie Crawford produced Lost Love and Home. He wanted to ensure that the record accurately reflected who the Hill Figs are as musicians. However, he had never tried to do anything like that before. About this, Crawford said, “I’d done some basement backroom recording and videos for some of my friend’s bands around time during live performances. I’d done the classic crappy YouTube cover. But, I had never sat down and tried to do it right.”

It wasn’t an easy process. About the learning curve he faced, Crawford said, “It was bigger than I thought it was going to be. As a musician, you spend years tuning your craft. Then, you develop a tone or a sound or a feel and when you go to record that, you would think it would be as simple as hitting that red button on your cellphone and you’re going to listen back and it’s going to sound like what you heard in your head or what came out of your mouth.” That wasn’t the case, though. Instead, Crawford had to figure out where to put the mics, which cables to use, and other physical parts of the equation. Then, he had to figure out the software. It was an uphill battle.

It paid off in the end, though. “I’m really happy when I listen to the finished product because I think you can hear Tyler’s words and Tyler’s stories and just what he sounds like,” Crawford said.

Hometown Reaction

Tyler Hood hails from a small town in southern Indiana. Collie Crawford is originally from Elizabethtown, Kentucky which is south of Lexington. The Hill Figs have received some serious attention from both hometown crowds. When they celebrated the release of the new album, though, they went to Louisville which is both a halfway point between the two towns and Crawford’s current home.

About that show, he said, “We played at the Whirling Tiger for our album release show. We sold a couple hundred plus tickets and basically sold out that room and had people screaming the words to the songs at us from as far away as Cancun. My parents flew into Nashville from Cancun and drove to Louisville to be at the show.”

The Hill Figs at Lousiville’s Whirling Tiger (Photo credit: Quentin Brooks Photography)

Listen to Lost Love and Home

Lost Love and Home is a killer album and makes me hope the Hill Figs are here to stay. If you enjoy the music of Drayton Farley, Cole Chaney, Logan Halstead, or Ian Noe you’ll dig this record. It is packed with top-shelf songwriting and storytelling over musical arrangements that are as catchy as they are unique.

Outsider.com