(Santa Fe, NM, January 2017) In the photograph on Stephanie Hatfield’s third and latest album cover, Traces, Hatfield, painted by sunlight, looks over her shoulder into the dark, dreamy, and decrepit interior of an abandoned Detroit factory. Peeling metal pillars, grids of small, broken windows in rusty panes, and wooden beams with worn-away gray paint reveal a vast space of abandonment, forgetfulness, and rue. And yet it is undeniably beautiful, not in spite of but because of its evolution—and the traces of stories trembling in the air, ready to be spoken to those who dream, imagine, and listen.
It’s a perfect symbol for Hatfield’s latest effort. “I had no idea what to call my third album, so I just referred to it as ‘Tres,’” she said. “Which became ‘Trace,’ then ‘Traces.’ This time, so many of my songs came from traces of images and dreams. I took inspiration from the trace, and then made more of it.”
She did so not just by spinning songs, but by summoning a new sound for them marked by Latin influences, including Mariachi guitar and trumpet, layered with “my more folk rock heritage, in the style of Calexico.” It’s dark and luminous, moody and transcendent. Traces differs from Hatfield’s second album, The Tracks, which she says was “more rock, more walls of sound, with a prominent electric guitar. Traces is more about a journey, a sophisticated experience, as opposed to more power.”
It’s also the first album she took the lead on producing. And what are some of the qualities is she most proud of?
Integration. “We recorded it live in the studio, most of it, in ten hours. And apart from the trumpet and mariachi guitar, which we added later, all of the musicians played their instruments at the same time, which was very interactive. You can feel it.”
And collaboration. “I had the pleasure of working with two member’s of Santa Fe’s Mariachi Sonidos del Monte, Eric Ortiz on trumpet, and Santiago Romero on guitar.” Her good friend from San Antonio, Texas, R. Bruce Phillips, played keys and piano. Upright bass player Noah Baumeister “is a gem,” she says, and Arne Bey, “who has been drumming since twenty years before I was born,” played the drums. And of course, her husband Bill Palmer on lead guitar.
Stephanie Hatfield and Bill Palmer produced Traces and recorded it at Frogville with Palmer engineering. Mastered in LA by Brian Lucey of Magic Garden Mastering. Hatfield will be performing songs from Traces at festivals and special events.