Review: Psalm Trees, “Crystal, Coral, Fossil: A Collection”

Psalm Trees

A mystical type of melancholia and introspection from London, Ontario’s Psalm Trees.

Brothers Shawn and Derek Durant have been quietly creating mesmerizing beauty under the moniker Psalm Trees since 2016.  In that time, they’ve released a handful of albums and EPs, each a wonderful depiction of their sonic beauty.  It’s an absolute shame that London is host to the Junos this year but this band is not included in any of the festivities.  I suppose the people in the “industry” still don’t know what to do with sincere profundity.

The music of Psalm Trees on this record is dominated by 3 sounds: Shawn’s voice, Shawn’s acoustic guitar and Derek’s multifaceted accompaniment on the keys. Similar territory as the early Kings of Convenience but, less whimsical.

There’s some new tunes and alternate versions of songs from previous albums.  In the album description, Shawn says “These songs I’ve included in this collection best represent some of my personal feelings about the way things are now. I also feel it is universal to how a lot of us are feeling about current moral, economic and spiritual challenges.”

I’ve been looking forward for the Durants to finally record and release a version of “Retirement” since I first heard it at one of their shows.  I think it was a porch concert late last summer… or the year before.  I’ve seen them a few times and shared a couple of stages with them.  The memories all blur together. Is that a sign I should cut back on my drinking? … I digress…  The delicate lyrics of “Retirement” delve deep into the Shawn’s imagination and memories. This sort of introspection is rare in song. “All my sensibilities. This worlds intensity. Wears me down” and then the chorus “Society. I’m retiring at noon. I’ll find a refuge in recluse.”

My second favorite track is “Suit the Weather.”  It’s devastating.  “Seems I’ve got to change again, with the seasons. Seems I’ve got to do better, suit the weather.”   The song has peaks and valleys.  Multitudes of precious moments blow over you like a leaf blowing in the breeze; tired and dry but, still clinging to its tree. And then. It’s finally released in an explosion of emotion.

When you get a chance to see the band live, they’ll likely be filled out to a quartet with bass and percussion.  The full sound is ideal for a live club. The rhythm section fulfills their requirements to amplify the arrangements but, I’m very happy this softer example of the songs exist.  Ideal for isolated listening sessions.  Headphones on. World tuned out.

Check out: “Retirement,” “Suit the Weather,” “Honest Son”

Preview and buy “Crystal, Coral, Fossil: A Collection” on Bandcamp.

 

 

Steve Murphy

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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