Armed with banjos and toy ray guns, Tall Tall Trees takes you on a trippy ride through the woods with founder Mike Savino’s first true solo project, ‘Freedays’.
The album is the third from Tall Tall Trees, who debuted as Savino’s indie-folk project on 2009 on his own label, Good Neighbour Records. Known for his extensive touring , it was Savino’s stint in Brazil that is said to have influenced his love and use of folk tones. His “banjotron,” an amalgamation of pickups, live effects and looping pedals, is a feature of his one-man-band act.
Despite being a tried and true Long Island, New York native, Savino captures a mountain air feel with his bright sounds and mystical voice. ‘Freedays’ bridges many familiar musical divides typically tackled by Tall Tall Trees.
Within the first few seconds of ‘Freedays’, the sounds of chirping crickets and howling wolves propels you into the world of Tall Tall Trees. The discord gives the sense of being in the middle of a forest far from humanity.
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The movement of the first track continues the feeling of being lost, but with a sense of purpose: it’s as if you’re embarking on a journey lasting through the album’s nine songs. (“I can finally see the stars / I didn’t know what I was missing / I never thought that I would make this far / I didn’t know that you were listening.”)
The second song, a little heavier-handed in its low note strumming, continues the journey of being alone with thoughts, memories, and nature all around. (“It seems like yesterday we were in the backyard playing in the grass […] I never will forget you.”)
With its immediate intro of electronic sounds, ‘Being There’ grants the album a more modern feel than the first few moments of woodland sounds. It shows off the experimental nature of Savino’s solo work that he composed over eight months in the Appalachian foothills of north Georgia.
It’s tracks like ‘CLC’ and ‘Lost in Time’ almost call back to the psychedelic folk of the ’60s and ’70s, while others like ‘SeagullxEagle’ come off as abrasively more modern, as Savino toys with different sounds, tempos and keys. The middle of the album lulls you into a peaceful nonchalance, but the proceeding songs startle you awake with screeching banjo strings and a decidedly more rock-‘n’-roll feel, particularly in ‘The Riverbend’.
The looping, twinkling sounds and ethereal voice of Savino culminate in the final and titular track, ‘Freedays’. The closing bars of the song fading into the background feel like the sun coming up over a highway after a long night of driving. It’s simple, sweet, and gives you the slightest of pauses to appreciate what you just experienced.
‘Freedays’ is out now, via Joyful Noise Records.