A Giant Leap Forward From the West Coast to the North Country.
I loved the Treetop Flyers buckskin fringed jacket, jangly guitars and harmony laden debut album The Mountain Moves; and when I saw them live, they not only looked the part but managed to sound as if they’d been tell-ported from Laurel Canyon in 1970 to Newcastle in 2013.
So it was with a modicum of excitement that I slid this disc into the player a couple of weeks ago.
My first impressions were that it was actually quite disappointing; because the jingly-jangly Byrdsian guitars and delightful harmonies I’d loved two years ago, had either been misplaced or thrown in the bin.
Now two weeks later this has grown on me like a big woolly jumper/fleece jacket combo on a cold and wet February morning.
The Treetop Flyers have moved on; progressed even and this album stands shoulder to shoulder with The Mountain Moves; just like an elder, more mature brother. It’s far more worldly wise, with opening song You, Darling You has that ‘Americana edge’ that I normally associate with Canadian acts these days, as the guitars are a lot more considered and Reid Morrison’s voice now a bit weary and contemplative.
It’s a similar feeling with St. Andrews Cross; a breathtakingly mournful ballad, written in the memory of Reid’s father and a song that can be taken literally and even metaphorically should you wish to do so.
That Northern coldness pervades several songs; Fairytales and Lullabies is so dark it would make the Brothers Grimm flinch; and Lady Luck owes more to the Cowboy Junkies than any other cowboy I can think of.
As I’ve said before; there aren’t many laughs here…..but there don’t have to be when the music is this good; try the punchy 31 years a song about a young friend who died while they were making their last album. Loss like that hurts; but these guys manage to make something beautiful out of their grief. Now that is musicianship at its very best.
Even in darkness, there is light…..and here it comes in the form of Dance Through the Night. In my humble opinion the Treetop Flyers finest song of their short career. On an album that contains four songs that are over 6 minutes; this is the longest; but there’s not a note nor a word that doesn’t need to be there. Whereas memories of the Byrds permeated throughout their first album; the ghost of Traffic wafts through this song (and a couple of others); but first and foremost the Treetop Flyers are gradually finding their own sound; and I’d guess after a year of touring this magnificent record; they will sound different again. And that’s a good thing.
Released March 11th 2016