With influences like Deer Tick and Fleet Foxes, a breezy album title and a band name to match, you could be forgiven for thinking, at face value, that Tall Tall Trees’ latest offering would be somewhat predictable. To the dismissive listener, this album could easily be weighed up as a continuation of that all-too-familiar indie folk narrative.
But then the record begins, and instantly, we’re transported to soundscape whose dimensions reach far beyond run-of-the-mill indie folk music. This is first evident in the group’s colorful manipulation of harmony. Where folk music is all too forgiving of lazy harmonic choices, Tall Tall Trees scatter interesting chordal patterns throughout their work, making for captivating listening. Throw in airy synthesizers and breathy vocals, and at times this record reads like a vital collision between Elliott Smith and Rogue Wave. The opening track, “Backroads”, is a prime example of this, as we find ourselves drawn in from the beginning.
For good measure, Tall Tall Trees boast the ability to melt folk stylings together with other genres. With its relaxed beat, slap bass interjections and dependence on retro keyboard sounds, “Being There” feels like it could fit in on an ’80s mixtape. Moments of dream pop-esque texture color the album nicely, such as on “The Riverbend”, as do the album’s broken chord banjo motifs.
While Tall Tall Trees’ Freedays is the band’s third record, it channels none of the laziness that can sometimes slip into a band’s discography by this point in their career. Creative, challenging and powerful from the beginning, this is one to get your hands on.