Hillfolk Noir’s What’s That Hat For? was recorded with Jon and Jude Mullin at the Ozark Missile Studio (Jon Mullin also recorded Hillfolk Noir’s 2012 album Hillfolk Noir Radio Hour). Following the conceptual Radio Hour, the band took a minimalist approach to the Hat sessions, cutting 26 tracks with the Mullins, 14 of which are featured on what Ward calls Hillfolk Noir’s “favorite record to date.”
“I’ve known Jon Mullin for as long as I’ve been serious about music and look up to him as a friend and artist,” Ward says. “The studio was a large room with vaulted ceilings, stove and wood floors. Jon had really great microphones and preamps and a sweet old half-inch reel-to-reel. We filled up three tapes and were stunned by the sound of the raw audio — warm and clear.”
“Less is more” also characterized the three sessions for Travis Ward’s Jump Ups and Jollities, a traditional blues-folk solo album recorded at Steve Fulton’s Audio Lab. Each of the album’s bare-bones songs features Ward and a lone instrument, created “with deep forests and high mountains on my mind,” he says.