Even the most enthusiastic of village idiots would find it difficult to comment upon ‘You, Darling You‘ – the track that opens Treetop Flyers‘ second album – without mentioning the names of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That carefree abandon of a sun-drenched but windswept America is a perennially present dynamic of the band’s signature, but then you would expect that with the band hailing from… Oh. They’re from the UK. Well, all right, one of them is from California, but believe you me, you have never heard a more American sounding British band in your life! What’s more, it works a treat.
There is a lot of true feeling on Palomino, and not without good reason. Shaped by a cavalcade of tragedies and personal disasters – the death of parents, marriage breakups, the loss of key band members – it’s something of an emotional journey that we can all relate to. As vocalist/guitarist Red Morrison put it, “We’d been through a lot individually and collectively. Coming together to make this record was very therapeutic for us, in a sense.” You can tell. It may not be glaringly apparent from either the previously mentioned song or the one that follows it, ‘Sleepless Nights‘, which could be likened to The Magic Numbers had the late Duane Allman been enlisted on guitar duty, but the way this particular tune descends into pure melancholy towards the end speaks volumes. It’s like walking into your house after the best party you’ve ever been to, only to find that one of the people closest to you has died in a tragic accident.
What follows feels like a period of mourning, ‘Lady Luck‘ perhaps suggesting the lonesome, emotionally numbed whisky drinker drowning his sorrows in a futile effort to curb the pain, ‘It’s A Shame‘ the acceptance of mortality and determination to make the best of a devastating situation. ‘Dance Through The Night‘ is like the wake – the fondest of farewells to somebody clearly already missed.
With all that in mind, I do not wish to give the impression that this is an album full of torch songs and tortured soul ballads; it’s anything but that. The riffs are consistently invigorating, the melodies lavishly seductive, and the vocals so persuasive that it is impossible not to feel like you are sharing in their grief, coupled with an enthusiastic optimism that the departed spirit has now been relocated to a better place, on a higher plane. This is especially apparent on the rousingly affectionate ‘31 Years‘, ostensibly a tribute to a good friend of the band who passed away while the band were recording their debut.
A warm, deeply personal album with a heart full of soul.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.