And Also the Trees

Farewell to the Shade

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Ironically, the Trees' only US release to date would begin with one of their most 'English' songs ever - and one of their all-time, flat-out best. "Prince Rupert," referring to the Royalist commander from England's mid-seventeenth century civil war, starts with a great bassline from Burrows, intricate percussion from Havas, Justin Jones' trademark guitar shadings and, as an extra touch, some marvelous keyboard lines from Tibenham (who also produced the album) that build into a sweeping orchestral backing, adding both beauty and drama throughout. Add to that a spot-on Simon Jones vocal, and the result is genius. Impossible to top as "Prince Rupert" is, Farewell comes consistently close throughout, such as with the semi-waltz time "Macbeth's Head" another classic Trees example of a title and subject matter! - the beautiful "Misfortunes" and "The Pear Tree," also appearing at the album's end as a remix by the Cure's Robert Smith, a long-time supporter of the Trees. More musical variety recurs throughout the album as well, with the synth-harpsichord led "Belief in the Rose" being a fine example, though sometimes the keyboards seem to get in the way of the regular Trees' musical vibe - an elaborate arty rock band they may be, but they are a rock band still (as the solid "Ill Omen" demonstrates quite well!), so hearing a keyboard take over the bass for "The Street Organ" makes for an odd touch, for instance. All this said, it's still the Trees at heart: story-driven songs, dark tones musically and lyrically, Simon Jones' deep vocals and Justin Jones' intricate guitar and all, especially on the surprising but incredibly apt cover choice: Cat Stevens' "Lady D'Arbanville," given a lush, bravura performance.

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