The Kim Lamothe Tree-oh officially in bloom

Mystery achievement
By CHRIS CONTI  |  November 24, 2010

Tiverton-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Kim Lamothe doubles as a full-time organic gardener and owner of Greenlion Design, and her new sophomore release, Mystery of Viburnum, provides the perfect landscape for the Kim Lamothe Tree-oh to fully bloom. The follow-up to her '08 solo debut Philodendron, Mystery of Viburnum (available at and iTunes) captures a coolly confident and engaging musicians with a vocal approach that exudes "a pleasant tension of emotion, expression, and range," as accurately summed up in the bio. Lamothe loves her some Joni Mitchell and, like contemporaries Ani DiFranco and Regina Spektor, she can brighten the room while breaking your heart. Viburnum is a 2010 must-have, hands-down one of the year's best local releases.

No one knows Rhody native Kim Lamothe like fellow singer and close friend Allysen Callery, who also happened to drop one of '10's finest earlier this year with Hobgoblin's Hat and has shared dozen of stages statewide since they first met on the circuit six years ago. Callery recalled the early encounters.

"Kim was totally raw, dropping F-bombs on stage and wearing her hair in cornrow-braided dreads," Callery told me. "She looked like a little lion, and her performance was impossible to not react to. But it was her poetry that really made me listen. What she had to say, her honesty and bluntness, was pretty incredible, and it's all still there today.

Those unique rhythms are now fortified by Brendan Whipple on upright bass (he also played on Hobgoblin's Hat) and drummer Eric Hastings, a Seattle transplant who saw Lamothe and Whipple play a set at AS220 a few years back and offered his services.

"This album is a marked evolution, for sure," Lamothe told me earlier this week while chatting up her CD release gigs, "even though my name is out front Eric and Brendan incorporate killer ideas and we fully develop them into 'Tree-oh' songs."

Lamothe presents plenty of introspective moments on Viburnum, and understandably so, given their creative origins. "A lyric or two might pop into my head, and I'll bring those ideas to a huge box of poems I wrote when I was 19," said Lamothe. "I had an old typewriter and I'd constantly write about my life at that time, so I'll dig through and piece songs together."

Lamothe isn't shy about freeing up some skeletons, including her mother's struggle with alcoholism on "Fool" ("My mother taught me to be sneaky enough, just like she fooled me/Yeah, over the river and through the woods I will fool you"). "I'm glad to open up about my alcoholic mom, it's a vulnerable feeling but I want other adult children of alcoholics not to feel so alone," Lamothe said. "For awhile I struggled with releasing some of these songs because they're so directly about my mom's drinking, but I'm glad I did now.

"It's like, 'fuck it,' you know?"

I asked about some of the standout cuts on the album, including "Diesel Dad" (one of the tracks featuring former Brown Bird guitarist Michael Samos on lap steel). "I sent out a message asking friends what objects or images reminded them of their father," Lamothe said, linking and likening dear-ol' dad to the "dusty Jackson Browne records on the shelf" and "the bottle of moonshine tucked way under the sink."

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  Topics: Music Features , Music, Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor,  More more >
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