The Lonely Forest


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On Arrows, the Lonely Forest's third full-length album, singer/songwriter/pianist John Van Deusen continues to express his quirky worldview in a reedy tenor occasionally wafting into falsetto, his songs set in classic pop structures even when his keyboard is not the preeminent instrument. Actually, that occurs frequently, as guitars dominate in arrangements that suggest the alternative rock of U2 and R.E.M. Van Deusen, meanwhile, comes off as a son of David Byrne or little brother of Ben Folds, presenting his idiosyncratic impressions, which include "Turn Off This Song and Go Outside," which follows up that piece of advice (for anyone who hasn't yet obeyed it) with the command, "Find someone to love," adding of the song, "you can listen to it later." Those who continue to listen anyway will hear Van Deusen alternate his conflicted impressions of romance in the succeeding songs, "(I Am) The Love Skeptic" and "(I Am) The Love Addict." One thing he is not conflicted about is his affection for his and the band's stomping grounds in the Great Northwest, a matter he takes up in "I Don't Want to Live There." The places he doesn't want to live include such music business meccas as Los Angeles and Nashville, while the place he does want to live (and love and die) features towering evergreens and the smell of the sea. Yet the Lonely Forest's music is sufficiently engaging that, along with Van Deusen's words and singing, it deserves much wider recognition than the band's immediate environs. This is music with the potential for a national following, which might involve playing in places the group's leader doesn't want to be caught dead.

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