With a refined and calculated arrangement, solid vocals and a large cast of Front Range guests, Amberly Chalberg’s sophomore release Hi-Line comes through with the air of a seasoned veteran.
The Denver based Americana singer-songwriter is intentionally raw and honest, she said, rooted in the vast landscape of Montana’s Hi-Line region. The album is a collection of stories about relationships, whether taking them for granted, speaking the hard truth, or apologizing when we‘re wrong. “Hi-Line is a reminder that our decisions have consequences. In the end, relationships and how we treat one another is what matters,” Chalberg said.
The 12-song album was tracked live at Mountain House Studio in Nederland, CO with an incredible group of musicians, including Chalberg’s long-time musical collaborator/guitarist Joe Mazza (John Common, 89s), guitarist Eben Grace (89s), drummer Jim Christie (Merle Haggard, Lucinda Williams), and bassist Taras Prodaniuk (Merle Haggard, Lucinda Williams). Merle Haggard and Lucinda Williams’ rhythm section is the musical foundation to Hi-Line.
“How lucky am I?!” she said about her guests in a statement about the album. “In addition to these great players, I was so lucky to have a caring, patient, and visionary producer. Todd Adelman is a mainstay in the Boulder/foothills music scene and (now former) owner/engineer at Mountain House Studio. Todd treated my songs as though they were his own and helped me bring them to life. We recorded and mixed Hi-Line the old school way — to tape on analog gear and with a crazy collection of vintage Gibson acoustics — which adds to the record’s tone and authenticity. Similar to my first EP, I had to include close friends who inspire me. You’ll hear the unmistakable-Tom Waits-like Andy Palmer singing on ‘The Whiskey Song’ and ‘Drunk.’ Andy is a long-time friend, amazing songwriter, and one of my favorite singers. You’ll also hear the flawless harmonies of vocalist Jessica DeNicola, who is a Denver music staple and one of my best friends. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined a better group of people to be partners in this art.”
Chalberg also explained that her father was the motivating force behind the album and that as she neared the finishing touches of the record, it took on an even higher meaning for her. “[My dad] was so proud of my first EP, mostly because the songs were about him. The music kept his spirits high, so I wanted to keep the momentum going and give him something that he could continue to brag about to his friends and nurses. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away after 116 chemo treatments, and a five-and-a-half-year battle with colon cancer on March 17 of this year. He was able to hear the final mixes, but he never got to see the album art or the finished product. The album title was named after our home (Montana Hi-Line) and the cover art of the white horse is symbolic of my Dad (it’s a long story). I know in my heart that he would have loved telling friends and strangers alike, for years to come, that the album was dedicated to him.”