Still, Tree by Leaf for me were always best when doing the least. With their gold-plated earnestness, they don't need a lot of dressing up to look their best. Thus, the naked fingerpicking of "M-set," where you can hear every bit of Garrett's delivery, like he's whispering in your ear, is the standout here.

"When the moon has eaten, all she can tonight," he breathes in layers, "scattering her crumbs of light across the sky/I will turn the bed down/I will breathe a sigh/And if we know our placement, then we know our time."

"Wonder Worker" opens similarly, a call out to Tree by Leaf's outstanding "Cold Norwegian Tile," but quickens its pace with a subtle percussion and quick-sung vocals from the Soucys in their best vocal pairing (which is saying something). The chorus here is a soaring "ahhh-ahhh," like a primal expression of spiritual ecstasy. I guess there could be "Christian music" this good, but I don't know where to hear it. And it would be a crime if Tree by Leaf were ever pigeonholed that way.

"I am able to be evil," Garrett assures us, "but he's weeding me out."

No, really, they can do evil. "Mega Meta Utopia" is downright vicious: "I know how to cut you open with the flat edge of a dime." The best thing about Tree by Leaf's understanding of faith is their acknowledgment that the real world is often a dirty and uncaring place. To aspire to a "mega meta utopia" is to lead people astray. The way they take "hallelujah" in this song and twist it, as if to mock those who throw it out so casually, might be the best thing on this album.

Amen & Amen is the anti-bubblegum. You need to be willing to invest yourself in it. The return, however, is significant.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at  sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

AMEN & AMEN | Released by Tree by Leaf | treebyleaf.bandcamp.com

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: CD Reviews , Belle and Sebastian, Cliff Young, Siiri Soucy,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE