Sound — 10
Overall, Blowing Trees is a superb achievement in which songwriting skill, musical skill, musical arrangement and studio mixing combine to produce a hit. Atmospheric and gut wrenching from start to finish, Lead Singer Chris Maddin, Drummer Drew Peirce, Lead Guitarist Edwin Jared Stephens, and Bassist Roy Scavone play through fluid studio treatment to create a collection of cohesive parts, the whole of which is greater than the sum of its parts. Immediately the vocal sets the tone with a powerful vocal performance from Singer Maddin, evoking the archetype of the great Frontman-Vocalist, with a virtuoso skill in manipulating notes at a high vocal range at good volume. A clear case of a voice which the studio loves. The lead vocal is augmented with incidental background vocal harmonies borne from skillful, careful vocal arrangement. The overall technique converges to deliver a powerful vocal from start to finish. The powerhouse vocal is delivered over precise musicianship, and enhanced masterfully by Blue October Platinum-Producer David Castell. The quality of this production evokes an image of the early nineties cohesive production sensibility which treats a record as a piece of produced music from start to finish. An example of this quality is 1993's Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. This is high praise, indeed. Stylistically the emotion runs the gamut. On the single The Day the World Left Me an archetypically Texan acoustic guitar riff precedes a mournful declaration of frustration, loneliness, desperation, and abandonment. The vocal terminates in a building crescendo which contains an extended vocal plateau built around the chilling phrase And it follows my conscience, followed by a brief, authentic crescendo, followed by a mournful, background vocal. It is a truly successful theatrical musical moment. Somewhere on another part of the spectrum is the very atmospheric and scenic California Skies. This tune begins with bright sounding studio effects enhancing a placid, serene instrumental, a ubiquitous wah effect opens and closes only slightly/subtly, to create a feeling of movement. As the bright full strums draw the listener into the scenic atmosphere, the listener can seemingly visualize him or herself riding in a convertible against the backdrop of perfectly blue California coastal skies. Works of art which seek to describe the essence of a physical place are such a treasure trove of evocative imagery and sonic metaphors. This song makes the most of this dynamic. Blowing Trees swung the bat, and hit it over the fence.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, Blowing Trees self-titled debut provides a strong lyrical effort to match the sonic power of the record. The lyricist relies on a few poetic conventions to craft a libretto designed to play a complimentary role to the emotionally evocative soundtrack. The lyricist creates a set of quick images designed to enhance the movement and life of the vocal, by crafting sets of assonant and alliterative words. An example of this device is the image suitcase symptoms to provide poetic movement to a song with an overall travel theme. The lyricist includes passages of powerful phrases repeated in order to accentuate a vocal crescendo. The lyric And it follows my conscience is repeated as it rides the crescendo of a moment of drama. The implications of this large are large, indeed, and deal with the root of our human condition. This is a large and effective lyrical achievement -- a breakthrough. Lyrics are undoubtedly the component of a record which matter far more to the listener than the musicians. Blowing Trees does a fit job of creating a body of lyrics which function skillfully with the overall record. Any listener will appreciate the skill with which the lyrics were prepared.
Overall Impression — 9
This record blows forth from the Alamo City with every bit of intensity which infuses the Central Texas live music scene, and the attention to musicianship which makes this regional fare sensational. This band has outgrown a regional appeal, and has has hit its stride with an impressive showing at the South by Southwest Festival, followed up by an impressive debut showing on Glassnote records. The vocal quality is comparable to Coldplay. The musicianship is solid. The production is a triumph. Now is the time to check out Blowing Trees upcoming live shows in Texas, which can be found at www.blowingtreesmusic.com. This is a band with a world of potential. This is the best record from an up-and-coming band I have reviewed in quite a while.