Along with being home to Merge Records and a multitude of amazing bands, the Chapel Hill area of North Carolina now gives us Lost in the Trees. With a line-up of musicians that sometimes exceeds twelve players and includes a full string and horn section, Lost in the Trees is an ocean of symphonic beauty.
At first, Lost in the Trees was the solo “bedroom recording project” of songwriter and composer, Ari Picker. Since then, the one-man show has evolved into a full-blown band that showcases the classical training that Picker received while attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music. At moments, you really feel as though you’re listening to Bach or Beethoven, but with a kick. It’s a refreshing take on the rock band, and makes one wonder why more classically trained musicians don’t start bands.
All Alone In An Empty House was originally available in a very limited release in 2008, but now, after signing to Anti-Records this past winter, an enhanced version was just released this fall. The album opens with the title track, and is the long hallway entrance to what’s to come. It’s a love song about imperfection and the complications of relationships: “How I hate your soul/Are we leaving/Are we ever leaving/We’ve got black spots in our eyes.” Those complications take a breather with the next song, “Walk Around the Lake,” and a sense of contentment, a feeling of release is felt: “I’ve spent so long hurting in such a short life/But I’m moving on/My heart is grown/I’m moving on.” Picker’s voice is a velvety companion to the lyrics he writes and the songs he composes… and what a composer he is. Both “Mvt. I Sketch” and “Mvt. II Sketch,” are gorgeous intricate string-involved songs that need no lyrics.
But Lost in the Trees can still rock. “A Room Where Your Paintings Hang,” is heavy with guitar riffs that are reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945” – yes, you’ll be doing your best air-guitar during this one. “For Leah and Chloe” closes out this stunning album. It’s an acceptance, a look back through one’s life and thankfulness for both the loves and pains that shape us. It may seem like a dark topic on which to end, but it’s anything but. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to love what you’ve become, but the honesty in Picker’s voice assures us that he’s already there. And that’s a beautiful thing for both Lost in the Trees and us.
By: Amanda Chatel
“For Leah and Chloe”: