"My dad's just beginning to learn how to engineer recordings," Morgan explains. "This was his learning experience, which, I have to say, I think he did a nice job on." Indeed, the guitars sound a little brighter than on Six Songs, the harmonies delivered with a newfound warmth and clarity. Finishing touches were added in Pennypacker Riggs's family garage in El Cerrito, with the vocalist's mother contributing a recorder overdub before the duo closed the book on Human Like a House.
These production choices seem appropriate given the ground the duo treads on this album. "Owning a home [in the Bay Area] is pretty much a fantasy, a domestic fantasy," Pennypacker Riggs says when I ask her about recurrent images of homemaking. "I love this area, but I won't be able to afford to stay here forever, which bums me out."
It's a rootlessness all too familiar to many of us and one that Pennypacker Riggs rubs up against on Human Like a House. The album's centerpiece, "The House under the Hill," crescendos with a chorus fleshed out with vocals by Morgan's parents in a swelling show of support. But then, moments later, it's just the guitars and Pennypacker Riggs's voice again: "Alone I am nameless / And fearless and faceless." Bob Dylan might ask her, "How does it feel?" but by the end of Human Like a House, we have a pretty good idea. *
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