Carrie Tree -‘The Canoe’ (Wild Cedar Records)
Over the years of writing this blog (and to anyone still reading, it may come as a surprise to you to learn that it’s coming up for thirteen), I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with singer-songwriters. But cutting to the chase, whilst Carrie Tree had been unknown to me until the release of this, her third album, it’s an album that has grown on this listener, and become an album that’s a pleasure to listen to, rather than one simply to be reviewed.
There’s a beauty within this album that bewitches and entices. The songs are beautifully scored, and actually command your attention. Rather than just being about the singer and her songs, they are delivered and presented in a way that suggests magic is at work here. It’s really not just another pop-folk record like…too many to list, really. Mostly recorded in the UK and Iceland, with a whole host of international musicians
While the record is perhaps still finding its feet over the first two tracks, the power within kicks in on the title track, the third one on the running order. Particularly poignant is ‘Human Kindness.’ In well-intentioned but less skilled hands, this song about a refugee fleeing a war-torn country could have been worthy but dull. Sung with her twin brother Mark, the lines about ‘I’ve slept in the rubble/screaming at the bombs this is not in my name’ have both poignancy and humanity.
The minimal approach to scoring the record is reminiscent at times of later-period Talk Talk, particularly on ‘Deep as We Dare,’ a beautifully autumnal song. It’s effective, and never once does it get syrupy over the album. In fact, it’s a mark of strength that not only do individual songs start to stand out over repeated listens, but that what the best track is changes.
There’s no doubt that most singer-songwriters write from the heart, Carrie Tree has the ability to deliver upon the promise within. Those who aspire to tread this well-worn path would be advised to take note. What they may struggle to emulate is the voice, simultaneously fragile and smoky…
The Canoe is released on April 26 on wild Cedar Records