Review: Lowly, The Tree Ghost – Tall Tales

Lowly, The Tree Ghost

Clay: I don’t claim to know a lot.  You could queue up Sam Cooke and most would hold true.  Except history.  I killed it at that as a major in college.  But everything else?  Yeah, don’t know much, but I know what I like.

More accurately, I know aesthetics.  You can have your tempos, your arpeggios, your syncopation, and your 3/4 time signature.  I’ll take “I like it because it sounds great to me” any time, since those are the words of the every day fan.

And you know what? The indie-folk stylings of Cleveland’s Lowly, The Tree Ghost sound good to me.  The tempo is bright and cheery, and the harmonies between Andrew Arbogast and Emily McKitrick are sweet audio gold.  Each song is catchy without pretense; there is honesty in all of the lyrics and in how the music unfolds.  Sometimes you just put on an album and you say, “yeah, this sounds right.”

Greg: Your Feng Shui of music aside, Lowly, The Tree Ghost did something very unique to me. They left me speechless. Not in some repulsive sense or even necessarily a profoundly beautiful sense. But in a feeling deep inside coming to life and taking over my whole body in a musical journey sense.

The Tall Tales EP begins as a wonderful folky little experience but before you know it, it begins to expand into, as strange as it sounds, a sensation of floating through music. It is the same effect of listening to “Sleeping Lessons” by The Shins. Now, Lowly and The Shins are two different bands, but the compositional talents create landscapes that draw you in.

Clay: A lot seems to rely on the ability to skate the thin line between simple and elegant, between fundamentals and just layering it on sonically.  Bands like the Shins and friends of Nanobot, Curious Quail have shown can yield positive results.  And it isn’t just throwing a violin in there and saying you are now an orchestral 5-piece, it comes down to having an ear for the aforementioned aesthetics.

It is why I will always be an advocate for bands that simply write music that they want to hear.  I feel like that is what is going on with Lowly, The Tree Ghost – a love of big sounds and indie folk have allowed this band to create an EP like Tall Tales and blend it all together so well to create those landscapes that you mentioned.  At the risk of saying something really not that profound, the album sounds like it was written and recorded by fans.

Greg: I think saying it was written and recorded by fans is an excellent way to put this album. I think that comes through best in “Genealogy.” The rolling folk sound reminds me of San Francisco’s Owl Paws, which had me doing a double take when I learned they were from Cleveland, and it carries an airy presence which is only echoed in the beautiful harmonies the EP carries throughout. Arbogast and McKitrick don’t deliver the generic vocals that seems to be crowding music these days; in other words, they’re not trying to Winehouse it up. But more importantly Joseph Piedmonte (Bass), Steven Crobar (Drums) and Laura Simna (Violin) play to a collective whole, making the five-piece a solid singular entity that is a beautiful journey.

Clay: The only risk of writing the kind of music you want to hear is that not everyone wants to hear it, but having an ear for a tune means that people should get on board.  I may not know a lot, but I know people should get on board with the indie-folk that Lowly, The Tree Ghost is bringing.

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