Tall Tall Trees' second album, 2012's Moment, is a departure from their self-titled debut. Where the first album is a collection of often humorous folk-rock songs with strong bluegrass and world music influences -- somewhat unfocused, albeit with terrific musicianship -- Moment achieves a more consistent indie rock sound and features more mature and introspective lyrics. While the influences are still intact, the result has more in common with banjo contemporaries Fleet Foxes than, say, Mumford & Sons or the Avett Brothers. The band -- singer/songwriter/banjo player/multi-instrumentalist Michael Savino, guitarist Kyle Sanna, and drummer Mathias Künzli -- also added a member in bassist Benjamin Campbell. Inspired partly by a trip the band took to Alaska to temporarily escape their base of New York City, the album explores personal relationships, to people and environs. The spirited unlove song "Waiting on the Day" ("I'm waiting on the day when you don't come back again") is the closest thing to a full-on instrumental hootenanny on the record, and showcases the world music rhythms and bluegrass chops that helped define Tall Tall Trees' sound at their inception. The more genial "Highwire," an epic charmer that exhibits Savino's falsetto and a rollicking bassline, is a study on risk and precariousness that ends in a poignant, calliope-style waltz. "Men and Mountains," the delicate "Wake the Moon," and "Nothingless," a ballad with bowed banjo, further demonstrate the album's more sincere leanings with moments of sweetness and profundity, and more-intimate performances. Songwriter Savino, a jazz bassist by formal study, has emerged as an experimental electric banjo marvel with a reputation for live performance. However, without discounting his and his bandmates' notable skills on their instruments, Moment is ultimately navigated by warm vocals and contemplation.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson