Search online for bands named Trees and the only entries you’ll find are references to the glorious British Folk outfit of the late sixties and early seventies. Deep in the recesses of Finland, however, comes another such incarnation: one that joins the gathering of acts that have revitalised the genre this year.
Today’s Trees are so fresh that eponymous album Trees (Svart Records) is their debut, and from the outset, there’s a huge nod to Haight-Ashbury and that sunny late sixties vibe. Opener ‘Lovers’ has a gorgeous, mellow guitar tone, while a mono-style production gives a vinyl crackle to the atmosphere and Santeri Vӓnttinen’s mid-pitch croon. The harmonica of the ensuing ‘Tomorrow Decides’ ushers in a brief, happy trip through Country-esque circumspection, while the Torch-infused ‘Scarlet Letters’ possesses a serious double-bass groove.
Whilst the gentle nature of the songs cannot be denied, there’s a Desert Rock sensibility to the feel and composition of the music. Jangly ballad ‘Like Tombstone’ sees Vӓnttinen’s voice given an electric fuzz, those chords tumbling like a dancing fire in the Mojave moonlight. The delicious ‘Wherever You May Be’, meanwhile, despite more harmonica and it’s heartbreaking, James Taylor-like quality, discusses the vastness of space with a doobie in its mouth: and while devoid of dusty sand the flute-imbued, lush Americana of ‘Indian Summer’ maintains the West Coast feel.
‘Waltz’ gives a sparing, tribal rhythm to a Simon and Garfunkel-styled madrigal, while ‘Out In The Open’s CSNY vibe, with its pacy drive and leisurely harmonies, indicates party time at Woodstock. ‘Forest’s electric twang sees the native Country Rock of Grant Lee Buffalo take a bow, a melancholy trumpet the highlight of a profound coda.
Album closer ‘A New Day’ is graced with orchestral strings, a stirring accompaniment to a Beatles-inspired lilt with an onerous message. It speaks for the album as a whole: a delicate, summery nature disguising themes of loss and fear. As Blind Melon grunged up the Hippy template, Trees have stripped it back to those heady days of chilled, subtle protest, and it bloody works.
7.5 / 10