With her third solo album, Apple Tree, Katie Herzig builds on the more commercial pop leanings of her previous record, Weightless, taking a further step away from her acoustic folk beginnings. Here, her catchy songwriting and distinctive smooth, girlish vocal tone approximate a vocal and musical blend of Jewel and Ingrid Michaelson. Herzig's first recording after moving from Colorado to Nashville and working with area talent, Apple Tree has a polished, radio-friendly sound that straddles alternative folk and full-band adult alternative pop/rock. The album has earned her continued success in licensing, something she's enjoyed since her debut -- songs from Apple Tree have been featured on television shows including Bones, Grey's Anatomy, and HBO's Bored to Death. The songs' subject matter certainly doesn't hurt their licensing appeal; this is a collection of mostly pleasant love/relationship songs with a couple of more intense ones for contrast in "I Hurt Too" and "Wish You Well" ("I want to smell your scent/I want to breathe the air I did before you left"). Employing handclaps, bells, and whistling, the album is sweet but not too sweet, with electric guitar, drums, and strings adding weight and texture. The record also takes some interesting turns, like "Sumatra" with its "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" vibe, and the ad lib tempo of the expressive, stripped-down "Gypsy Girl," which incorporates a wistful musical quotation from "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Despite a few distractingly predictable rhymes and the title-acknowledged reuse of the phrase "apple tree" in three different songs (to be fair, "Forevermore" takes its "apple tree" chorus from the song popularized by Kay Kyser as "Playmates"), the album demonstrates flexibility in Herzig's songwriting and an aptitude for hooks that should appeal to a broad audience.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson