On October 15, celebrated American vocalist and songwriter Kacy Hill released her new LP Simple, Sweet, and Smiling. She teased the release of the LP a few weeks ago on September 28 with a new song from the album, “Easy Going.” She has also confirmed new dates for her U.S. fall tour later this year, all of which could be found on her website.
Simple, Sweet, and Smiling is an eleven-track album that has been dubbed “a real-time exploration of the realities we’re all faced with as we enter adulthood.” Filled with love letters to family, friends, and partners, the LP confronts the artist’s feelings of powerlessness during times of adversity, as well as the love and support that imparts moments of clarity to push through the chaos of life-changing events.
The album, created alongside John Carroll Kirby (Frank Ocean, Solange), Ariel Rechtshaid (Adele, Charli XCX) and Jim-E Stack (Caroline Polachek, Dominic Fike), was recorded during difficult circumstances. While she was composing and recording songs during lockdown, Kacy’s father suffered a heart attack. On top of all this, her agoraphobic panic disorder that she has been struggling with since childhood resurfaced with a vengeance. This aspirational collection of songs serves as a document in which Kacy records her struggles in the face of adversity and how she manages to pull through with the encouragement. This album, according to Sacks and Co., is “an acknowledgement of gratefulness for those moments in which clarity briefly breaks through mental anguish; and a tongue-in-cheek admission of something which for many of us never quite feels possible.”
Upon listening to this album, these emotional struggles and triumphs are evident from each of these eleven tracks. Kacy has been praised before by London’s Sunday Times for her “captivating voice” and “serious talent,” but with an overall minimalist arrangement of instrumentals across the LP, Kacy’s vocals truly shine at the forefront of the album. A notable track from the album, “Seasons Bloom,” was one of the first tracks released from the album. The track is ripe with emotional vulnerability and one of the most powerful demonstrations of Kacy’s vocals against a gentle beat. “But then I’m seeing your face in the moonlight,” Kacy sings, “It’s like I’ve known you so long.”
This anthem of calm but powerful reconciliation and realization continues with “Easy Going,” which was one of the final tracks released before the album’s premier on October 15. This track was accompanied by an 80’s era-themed music video, which was directed by Lauren Dunn, and featured a dream-like montage of Kacy singing along to some gut-punching lyrics confronting and coping with anxiety: “They say the storm will stop rolling…but I’m in a garden, it’s so quiet and inside, screaming, I just wanna feel fine.”
This album is truly an encapsulation of what Kacy Hill has to offer in the last few years she’s been active. Office has called some of her previous music, most notably her acclaimed album from 2020, Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again, “dazzling, heartbreaking, and endlessly listenable.” Pitchfork called the album “a therapy session, filled with bits of advice that suggest countering times of pain or heightened worry with patience and trust.”
There are many similarities between Is it Selfish and Simple, Sweet, and Smiling, although there is notable growth and development in Kacy’s vocals and the emotion behind each song since her previous album. The pandemic-induced lockdown had forced her to adopt a new recording style—that is, from a home studio where she personally records her vocals, sometimes first thing in the morning. Perhaps that has given this album that special something that the previous album lacked—a gentler and more vulnerable, though no less powerful, approach to the composition and tone of these songs. Overall, this album is yet another impressive technical achievement from the American songwriter, and an emotional experience that will tug at any listener’s heartstrings.
This is not the last we’ll see from Kacy this year. During the fall, Kacy Hill will be embarking on a U.S. based tour around the country. This will be her first ever headline tour and first live dates since 2018, at locations including New York’s Mercury Lounge, Los Angeles’ Moroccan Lounge and more. Tickets are on sale now at Kacy’s website.
In the meantime, enjoy Simple, Sweet, and Smiling: a heartfelt exploration of what it means to face the realities of adulthood, and still power through.