Editors' pick

Lost in the Trees

Folk/Bluegrass
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Editorial Review

LOST IN THE TREES
Album review: "All Alone in an Empty House"

The combination of bitter and sweet creates a compelling mix on Lost in the Trees' new album, "All Alone in an Empty House."

Sometimes, the North Carolina band's songs are delicate and tender. With acoustic guitar plucking, soft glockenspiel and Ari Picker's expressive tenor, "Love on My Side" sounds as if it were being played in a nursery. At other times the music is fiercely emotional, as Picker howls on the title track: "And how I hate your soul/Will the church protect me?/How I hate your soul."

But "All Alone" doesn't rely solely on Picker's dynamic, slightly mercurial presence as frontman to convey the songs' emotions. The album gets added drama from his backing band, which includes a three-member string section.

In particular, lead single "Walk Around the Lake" enters with a wallop, full of sweeping violins and operatic backing vocals that provide a larger-than-life feel. Sometimes Picker even steps back entirely, allowing for stirring string interludes.

Coming from seemingly out of nowhere, Lost in the Trees is a strange little band (as small as a seven-member band can be). Essentially, the band plays Picker's singer-songwriter fare augmented by the emotional bombast of his collective of musicians.

Regardless, "All Alone" is a nice surprise. The band's rich, fully realized arrangements elevate Picker's heartfelt songwriting to memorable heights.

- Dan Miller, Feb. 2011