[4 October 2009]
The Giving Tree Band, formed by brothers, multi-instrumentalists, and Chicagoans Eric and Todd Fink, has made its greenest album to date. Printed on recycled materials and using nontoxic inks, Great Possessions was recorded at a solar-powered studio in Wisconsin with instruments used from naturally fallen trees and funded by investments in wind technology. In addition, the band plants trees to offset transportation pollution. Fittingly, the album starts and ends with American ecologist and environmentalist Aldo Leopold, whose book, A Sand County Almanac provides the inspiration for the album’s title. In it, Leopold expresses that possession meant more than owning or controlling something; possession is the appreciation or connection to and responsibility for the world around us. Besides having a down home, Southern air (swaying fiddles and twangy dobro and banjo), the songs take influences from bluegrass (“That’s the Time”), mariachi (“Pegged”), and Irish jig (“Price of Your Advice”) and emit an underlying feeling of happiness. The close vocal harmonies and pitch of the vocals offer a sense of camaraderie and a relaxed, content attitude thanks to the involvement of a revolving door of friends and guest musicians. Despite a few sloppy details, Great Possessions reflects the classical training of the band’s core members. It’s not just “some hippie shit”.