I know I’m not breaking any new ground with this revelation, but art is cathartic. It allows us to cope with stressful situations, enjoy a moment of beauty, to reflect on an event in our life, or to cope with loss. Loss is a powerful emotion; the emptiness is paralyzing, all consuming. It seems like you can think of nothing else. After a while, you can function and think again, but the icy hand will grip your heart and squeeze. And squeeze. It will not let go. Sometimes it feels like you will never be able to get any closure. How could you? You cannot say goodbye to the person, you just needed more time.
Then your hand moves. Your hand creates. It could be a journal entry or just a thought scribbled on a napkin. For the artistic, it makes a sculpture, a painting, a piece of poetry.
Or an entire album.
When his father passed away in 2009, Nate Eisland put pen and guitar to hand and revived the life of his band, Scattered Trees. As a coping mechanism, he created Sympathy. Strong emotions create raw, honest products, regardless of how they are received.
Sympathy should be received well. It is a raw product, both in theme and in production and is inspired music down to its core. The recording is stripped down to bare bones soft rock and folk tradition. The heart and soul put into the music reverberates with every note, straight from your ear buds into your gut. The album is a spiritual painting that guides your emotions where they need to go through the Eisland’s story.
The story is told through melancholy vocals, acoustic guitar picking, mandolin strumming, and organs. The album starts with a slow burn with “Bury the Floors,” complete with a capella singing backed by tambourine. It then breaks into the electronic folk “A Conversation (About Death on New Year’s Eve),” and continues an up and down therapeutic music session. This builds to a questioning of faith in “I Swear to God,” which culminates in a high-charged rock-pop tune before dipping back down the hill to the quiet and acoustic conclusion, “On Your Side.”
The end result is a piece of art that not only lets us into the world of the members of Scattered Trees, but allows us to look inward to our own.