By Now Even the Trees

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Recorded in the winter of 2002 in anticipation of a summer tour, By Now Even the Trees is a significant improvement over its predecessor, presenting Boxstep as a mature and confident band, comfortable in the studio and with its own strengths and weaknesses. All of the major problems evident on The Faces All Look On are overcome here: Eric Graf's singing has become more distinct, with talented vocalist Sarah Siplak playing a larger role; the production is more thoughtful and detailed, and the playing more measured, allowing the individual instruments to reveal themselves gradually over the course of the tracks; and the songs themselves are more varied and accessible, bringing listeners along for the ride instead of hitting them with a wall of sound. "Fortune Cookies," beneath all the strings and arrangement a keenly effective pop song, demonstrates Boxstep's growth as songwriters. Instrumental gem "The Tenting Effect" and the gorgeous "Western Exit," which features Siplak on lead vocals and a disarmingly spare arrangement, show that the band has moved beyond simply recognizing subtlety as a musical device, and learned how to leverage it to maximum effect. It isn't always an easy listen, with several songs tempering all the quiet with harder, more heavy-handed passages, but it's nonetheless a strong statement of the band's growth relative to both their art and their craft.

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