The Mountains & the Trees: I Made This for You
This aw-shucks sweetness works in places, but that's not a tone you want to stretch out over a whole record.
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.