HELD BY TREES – Solace

Tweed Jacket Music 2022

HELD BY TREES –
Solace

Doyens of progressive pop color spring in enchantment to making rustling leaves unrhyme for a reason.

It’s about time this collective stopped pretending they left their erstwhile attachments in the past, for even the cover of the veterans’ full-length debut should tantalize their tentative audience with pastel echoes of the TALK TALK imagery. So if such singles as "Mysterium" that the ensemble proclaimed their emergence with all but suggested familiar aural whispers, “Solace” sculpts the same wonders on a larger scale, albeit not in brighter colors. Which is rather logical, because deeds speak louder than words and, by partnering with Play it Green to make Climate Positive Music, the band are glad to know a tree will be planted for every platter sold.

Now the aforementioned pieces, ones which previously saw the light of day, are scattered across the album, taking on a new meaning in its context; that’s why opener “Next To Silence” places solemn quietude on a pedestal where the project mastermind David Joseph’s dewdrop piano and Andreas Panayi’s tender woodwind bathe in the nigh on intangible web woven by string quartet and birds’ tweets. Still, a pair of other Mark Hollis’ associates, Martin Ditcham and Robbie McIntosh, bring their respective drums and dobro to the fore of “In The Trees” to establish a palpable groove and let the bass propel this elastic number’s twang towards pastoral bliss. And when David Knopfler and Tim Renwick’s guitar licks enhance the overall vibrancy on the petrichor-scented “Rain After Rain” and a few more instrumental cuts, the natural beauty is set in the listener’s heart, the balladry reaching for spring of youth, for spirit of Eden, and none of the urban passages of “Wave Upon Wave” can detract from acoustic delights the players capture for posterity here.

There may be a shred of menace in Laurence Pendrous’ harmonium that leads into “An Approach” and contrasts its strum, but “The Tree Of Life” brandishes a robust, deliciously dirty riff only to dissolve the psychedelic gloom in a gentle lace and brass ecstasy, while “The New Earth” comes infused with subtlety and substance in equal measure to fill the fusion-tinctured finale with anxious expectancy and inform the sweetness with uplift. Or with solace – something required in our times. Just like this record is.

*****

March 3, 2022

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