Review Summary: Orchestral folk-pop that takes the orchestral part seriously.
Right from the swelling strings of six-minute opener “Empty House”, it’s clear that Lost in the Trees don’t take their “orchestral folk” label lightly. Unlike countless other indie bands whose orchestration are often no more than harmonized arrangements of violins, horns, etcetera; Lost in the Trees actually, y’know, orchestrate. They compose their arrangements to have more than just a singular melody transposed across different instruments. More than anything this is what keeps the Chapel Hill band’s sophomore release All Alone In An Empty House an interesting album. In more mundane hands, the Stravinskii like “Movement I” would have stopped after the first memorable melody, but cellist Drew Anagnost and violinist Jenavieve Varga’s lovely interplay bring the piece to a whole other level. In these moments, like the arresting gothic chorus of “Walk Around the Lake” or the damn catchy “Movement II”, Lost in the Trees look ready to become the new darlings of the indie-scene. They aren’t quite there yet, however.
When things get stripped down, the band tend to lose that which make them so great otherwise. Ari Picker’s vocals are swell and all, and his sense of melody is certainly strong, but songs like “Love” and “Wooden Walls” tend to float over the listener, the former not helped by its borderline inane lyrics (the refrain of “I never heard someone say that love wasn’t enough” being the worst culprit). Yet overall the record is a precious one; at times too precious indeed, but a precious one none the less. If both “Movement” pieces, or even the “Ave Maria” aping instrumental “A Room Where Your Paintings Hang” are any indication, Lost in the Trees have a fantastic record in them somewhere. Perhaps it resides on the bombastic side of proceedings, where a little more extroversion is necessary. Either way, All Alone in An Empty House should be enjoyed for what it is, not what it could have been.