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The Mountains & the Trees

I Made This for You

(Indie Europe/Zoom; US: 10 Aug 2010; UK: 10 Aug 2010)

Jon Janes, the singer-songwriter behind the Mountains & the Trees, seems to be just as sweet and soft-spoken as the offer in his new album’s title implies. I Made This for You is a record of guileless, nearly innocent folk-pop that has both a bedroom immediacy and a orchestral heft working in its favor. Janes’ songs can take on some precious material, but there’s a sincerity to it that goes a long way. The childhood story of “Fear of Ghosts”, or the lovelorn shuffle of “More and More and More” show Janes as a diehard romantic, and he brings that romance out in these hushed, confessional tunes. Smartly eschewing the coffeehouse vibe of just guitar and voice, he gets a lot of players to help him here. The clever, full-band number, “Minimum Wage Lovers”, shows Janes and his players in top form. Still, as charming as these songs can be, it’s easy to wish this album didn’t didn’t sound so sweet all the time. There’s an aw-shucks vibe to this that can be a bit much, and it eventually takes its toll on the record. At his best, Janes is a humble-sounding, doe-eyed fella, kicking at the dirt while he quietly sings. When it works it works, but it’s not a tone you want to stretch out over a whole record, which is what happens on I Made This for You.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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