Lisa Papineau

Red Trees

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AllMusic Review by

While Red Trees is her second solo work, Lisa Papineau's been involved with enough collaborations and group projects to make a Pete Frame-style family tree that could warrant its own book. But it's definitely a reason why Red Trees is such an accomplished and enjoyable experience; this is far from anything like a sophomore slump. Starting with "Rene Thomas," a blend of everything from live-in-a-room group vocals to spooky church organ to growling bass and exuberant handclaps, Red Trees revels in its combination of exultation and unease, a party to keep the ghosts away that still welcomes them. Hearing her steady, measured singing on songs like "Annette Tessier" and "Macro Chomo" is a sheer delight, even while the arrangements on the former shifted in the break from calm, acoustic guitar to a collage of her vocals and breathing as well as keyboards. Two guest vocalists appear -- Matthieu Boogaerts takes a very softly voiced turn in his duet with Papineau, "I Dream of Red Trees," (despite the name, it's a French language track) while Mark Eitzel matches her vocals through most of "This Is for the Love," an elegant, string-and-guitar-led piece. Other elegant examples of her ear for thrilling combinations can be heard in the mix of electro and accordion on "White Leather Pants" (not to mention the reappearance of handclaps, one of her best aces-in-the-hole throughout the entire album) and the deep bass pulses and soft chimes of "Nancy Baker." There's also wry humor in the fact that the most provocative title, "Gay Can't Wait Forever," is matched to a wordless track, the only vocals being a half-buried descending series of coos and keens.

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