Ex-Fairport Convention member Iain Matthews, Mark Hallman, and Michael Fracasso formed Hamilton Pool in Austin, TX, in 1991. Songs are written by each member, and the band's brand of folk-rock also features three-part harmonies.
After a long career in Fairport Convention and heading Matthews' Southern Comfort and Plainsong, Matthews worked in the mid-'80s as an A&R executive for Island and Windham Hill Records. In 1988, he released his first album in five years, Walking a Changing Line, which was recorded with producer Hallman (a former member of Navarro, which backed three Carole King albums and released two of their own). Impressed with the collaboration, Matthews moved to Hallman's base of Austin, TX, and recorded three subsequent albums. Hallman began to write songs as well, and the duo enlisted folk singer/songwriter Fracasso (who had recorded two solo albums himself) to form Hamilton Pool. After a few sessions together at Hallman's Congress House studio, the band recorded an album, still without a record contract. Fracasso left after a series of gigs to pursue his growing solo career but returned later. The band's debut, Return to Zero, was released in March 1995 on Watermelon Records.