Brighton’s Carrie Tree is a singer/songwriter who has toured with the likes of Damien Rice, Marillion and Carly Simon, no less! Playing festivals such as Glastonbury, Sunrise, Shambala and Buddhafields
along the way. In fact, Simon described her as a “phenomenal singer/songwriter” and who am I argue? Her latest offering, The Canoe is an exquisite, ethereal, moody and atmospheric 10 track album that has moments of sheer beauty.
Instrumentation is often sparse, sometimes just a piano or acoustic guitar to accompany the vocals, sometimes a harp (possibly electronic?) and this can lead to a feeling of wanting to hear a bit more going on. There is very little that could be described as jaunty, uptempo or uplifting, but the production and quality of the arrangements, recording and the musicianship are excellent. The vocals remind me in places of such English folk stalwarts as The Unthanks, Lisa Knapp and even Sandy Denny. Praise indeed!
Likewise, I find it difficult to fault the songwriting, which again is excellent. Therein, lies my problem. There is nothing to find fault with on here, everything is performed to a very high standard, it really is a great piece of work, but it just doesn’t excite me like I want to be excited by a record. The tracks that I like most are the ones that feature a bit of percussion such as the 6th track ‘Deep As We Dare‘, the vocal treatment giving it a lift, and the penultimate ‘Red Clay Woman‘ with its tabla helping to make it stand out. But, to my mind at least, there is just a little too much of a breathy vocals/piano/acoustic guitar/double bass vibe going on. Great stuff in small doses, but I struggle to listen to all 10 songs in one sitting, and I feel that in the old days, had I been listening to a vinyl copy, it would have been one side at a time (with a considerable break between).
This has been a difficult one, as I really wanted to like this album, and to be fair, it’s far from a bad record. I just can’t find myself wanting to tell everyone I know all about it, or posting endless links to it on YouTube. What can I say? Great if it floats your boat, and to be fair, it would have done mine at one time, but the only music that is doing that for me at the minute comes from the deep south, not the south coast.
The self released The Canoe is out now.