Lowly The Tree Ghost – “Tall Tales”

“Quirkily solid and hopeful, Tall Tales leaves you wondering a bit and interested enough to keep listening.” -HE

Holly Etchison

out of 10

Lowly The Tree Ghost

July 13, 2013

If indie folk and Cleveland don’t seem to go hand and hand in your book, Lowly the Tree Ghost might just change your mind. On their latest EP, Tall Tales, the band of five hailing from Ohio present a quaint collection of earnestly spun, if slightly hard to pin down songs.

In coffee and personal growth, we have the first track, “Jumpin’ Java” –a jolly look at brokenness and surrender. The surfer sixties drum roll and guitar rock, happy harmonies connect the upbeat tune with fun metaphor: “Grind me down like coffee grounds I promise I won’t whine too much . . . they start off green like you and me, falling beans but we’re bound for the press and for the pound.” Violin threaded throughout wins, and hand claps are always a welcome addition to my repertoire of enjoyable sounds.

The heartfelt “Great American Spirit,“ with “Bon Voyage“ violin, showcases clear, deeply felt vocals, if a little melodramatic in their delivery. The meaning gets lost a little, reading a bit like a personal journal entry or one-sided conversation. The piano finale and “na na’s” rescue.

The beginning of “Genealogy” has you prepared to sing with the Shirelles, “And then he kissed me…,” but quickly deflects to a fast paced ponderance on the family tree branches in which we all find ourselves tangled. I hear a little Cranberries Dolores O’Riordan in the female voice here. The action builds at the end and the lyrical repetition is interesting: “Whatever you’re running from chases no longer … whoa oh, in your mother’s eyes, in your father’s arms, in your sister’s cries, in your brother’s charms.”

As a sort of lullaby on resting easy with the assurance that all will be well and you are not alone, “Oh the monsters” finds you inside a windup music box. “That arm lurking outside turned out to be just a tree, that fear that cripples you will be laid to rest.” The wind chime bells at the end are a beautiful touch.

Dramatic violin and piano define “Anthropocene.” The driving violin here has a Waterboys feeling. Ambiguous lyrics hint at a finale: “In this land understand we take and never give back. This is the edge of man, this is the edge of the end , this is the end my friend.”

But wait, there’s more and it’s worth waiting for: a hidden track. A campfire swansong lilts. Gentle vocals and guitar go straight for the heart–sweet and a bit sad, but maybe my favorite of the whole album: “Row all alone, searching for the right kind of star…” Oh yeah.

Quirkily solid and hopeful, Tall Tales leaves you wondering a bit and interested enough to keep listening. Where are we going here and when will we arrive? Is it all we hoped for? What is “it” anyway? I’m reminded a little of Dignan’s line in the sleeper hit “Bottlerocket”–it ain’t no trip to Cleveland. Or actually, it kind of is.

-Holly Etchison, September 24, 2013