Sound — 9
The Celtic-pop tinder and lulling cascades of The Corrs and Loreena McKennitt sound like they have been revived by the pairing of lead singer Hannah Stobart and guitarist/keyboardist Steve Rothery who form the alternative pop/ambient folk group The Wishing Tree. Accompanied by keyboardist/percussionist Mike Hunter, drummer Paul Craddick, and backing vocals Jo Rothery, the group's latest CD, Ostara is a bubbly tureen of swirling synth showers, loosely tied rhythmic splashes, and spires of shooting guitar chords dotted by subtle nuances and chime-like embellishments. They are ardent masons who seem to plunge themselves into their work crafting whispery gales that burrow in the breakdowns of their soaring conflagrations. Their songs move organically caramelizing sonic projectiles and crevasses into a seamless stride. The music maintains a harmonious flow through the jostling synths and quivering eruptions planting towering spires in the guitar chords and wavy swells in the rhythm pattern. Stobart's vocals have a register similar to The Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan with lilt-like incisions and instinctive inflections that orchestrate the direction that the songs moods take. The meditative glaze of Holiday Hills is reflected in Stobart's syrupy glides, and the determined stance in her vocals through Easy pervade an unwavering will. The silky folk trimmings trussing the title track have a Celtic-slant in its pacifying wisps, and the easy going atmospherics of Falling have willowy chord drags that fold pouches of gentle shifts, furls, and twists. The group mix it up without compromising the gist of the piece. The country folk tint of Seventh Sign has a mild mannered tempo with sporadic gusts of soaring guitar chords and sprinkles of whining slide guitar. The soft, steamy embers kindling Kingfisher move with the comfy prancing of a cool, country day, and the light dusting of the tenderly stroked acoustics in Soldier move in pace with Stobart's angelic vocalise.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are reflective of a storyteller who narrates meaningful tales to audiences, bordering on making the songs a modern form of parables or spiritual hymns. The soft, throbbing grooves of Easy enhance the visuals in the lyrics, Plenty hands to sow the fields of doubt / Not enough to put all the fires out / Waiting for something good It never used to be like this / But they say ignorance is bliss / It used to be easy. The airy synth twinkles and glistening spires of Hollow Hills create a picturesque landscape for the words, Where the hollow hills meet the blacken town / She prays for a time with her eyes cast down / Skin polished silver by the moon / Like the women before her / She'll never leave too soon / She'll wait til the bells ring in the sun / She'll wait til the hollow hills have won All of the words that he never found / He spoke them gently to the ground / And nothing filled with everything / All of the wishes he never shared / He blew them out into empty air / And nothing filled with everything. The clarion ring in Stobart's vocals make the words easy to infiltrate the listener's thoughts like in Soldier when she questions, If you were a soldier, would you fight for love Would you carry her safely through the storm If you were a healer, would you pray for her? The lyrics usually have a third-person voice which makes them sound like Stobart is singing about the lives of the people around her, and yet, she makes them seem so personable.
Overall Impression — 9
The Wishing Tree's album may have a familiar sound to most audiences especially for those acquainted with the likes of such Celtic-based artists as The Corrs, Clannad, The Cranberries, and Loreena McKennitt, and yet, The Wishing Tree's songs have a certain appeal that makes their album Ostara sound unlike anyone else's. In some ways, Ostara is world class music that hearts around the globe will fall in love with on the first listen. Their music has what it takes to become a timeless classic that audiences will enjoy listening to throughout their lifetime, able to move souls in the same vane as such Medieval favorites as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Dante's The Divine Comedy thousands of years after their inception into pop culture.