While starting to record new songs, Hudson Bell was working on a history book about the city of San Francisco, a place in its early days known as Yerba Buena (translation “good herb”), which became the title of his first album in six years. “It’s also the name of an island in the middle of the bay between San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley,” Hudson explains. “When we were recording I was in San Francisco, John Slater (bass guitar) was living in Berkeley and Brian Fraser (drummer) was in Oakland. Yerba Buena seemed like the perfect title for our upcoming release.”
While Hudson’s historical work is technically unrelated to his music, the parallels make sense. His songs have been described as nostalgic – a return to “indie rock’s glory days.” Likewise, there are elements of Yerba Buena that allude to days gone by, like the song “Strait of Anian,” which references the mythical Northwest passage. It’s not truly about the past though as William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” While Hudson’s music comes off as familiar, it is fresh: a blast from the past that’s also very much in and of the present.
In this regard, Yerba Buena may be the ultimate Hudson Bell record. Hudson says, “These songs were written without thinking about it too much.” He adds, “The whole process was extremely laid back, so laid back that it almost didn’t happen.” Today the band is a bit more spread out topographically; however, Hudson’s hopeful they’ll reconvene soon to tour in support of the album. Whatever the case, and wherever the band is located, Yerba Buena stands as a testament that for some folks home is not a place, but a sound.
Yerba Buena will be released digitally on April 22, 2016 (Earth Day). The release will be available digitally and on limited edition CD with mini-LP sleeves featuring artwork by Lawrence Wells. In anticipation of Yerba Buena, an advance single from the record (“Hey Doll”) will be released digitally on February 12 and will include a bonus non-album track.