Gentle graces. There is something essentially soft and tender about Carrie Tree’s latest record, The Canoe. Underneath the placid exterior are musical depths one doesn’t always associate with folk music, instruments like balafon, ronroco, ngoni, and jarana. Allow the music to wash over you and you’ll be swept away by the essential beauty of these stringed instruments.
There are depths to the music thanks to the arrangements and production of Markus Seiber. Known for his ambient work, he has given hypnotic and peaceful qualities to a number of songs, creating a new swathe of colors for Tree’s aural canvas. As Tree explains, “the joy of having everything you need in the moment of being in a canoe, and essentially simplifying life, was an inspiration for the album.”
Her songs are like poetic visions unfolding on musical beds that unfurl slowly, softly. The life of a travelling musician has moments that make one wonder if the costs of touring are worth the price, “I’m craving compassion, searching for sanity, praying for home,” she sings on ‘Human Kindness’. But the second time through, things have changed and now, “I’m craving compassion, I’m searching for meaning and I feel so alone.”
Carrie Tree reaches for a particular spot in her songwriting. “The space in the songs is very important. It’s quiet and intimate. It almost needs a classical level of listening. I write songs to feed the heart; my music seems to bring people to a calmer space.” That’s definitely true of The Canoe. Songs and instruments unfold slowly. Tunes may begin and end with just the sound of a single guitar or piano, yet along the way the instrumentation and acoustics become more complex in service of the song.
The music Carrie Tree creates on The Canoe is a gift to be savoured like a summer breeze. Allow it wash over you and get caught up in the magic created by wind and wood, performed by an artist who knows her craft and isn’t afraid to reach for new timbres.