Like white cotton sheets, fresh buttered toast, and the end of the working day; Anna Elizabeth Laube goes for the mind through the heart with the simple pleasures in her fourth album "Tree". Gentle in stature, conciliatory in tone, Laube's voice is a late evening slow dance, a cup of warm milk, an easy-listening Country escapade that explores the celebratory, subtle tones of life and music.
"Tree's" artwork is lovely in a simple but colourful way. Inside the cover is much like a forest, there are blossoms and treescapes, and over the top there is credits and song information printed over in quite a dense style. It could be considered cluttered, but I think it echoes the closeness of the words and the chosen theme of the album, in this case "you can't quite see the trees for the words". The credits paint a picture of a lot of musicians being brought in for different tracks. There are some personal favourites such as Charley Wagner's ambient brass boost to "XO", and Ben Ferris' acoustic bass on track three "Sunny days." Though despite this array of artists and sounds there is an enviable level of consistency and quality to the overall sound here, it means that there aren't any surprise tracks that feel out of place. What of the songs?
Track four, "I miss you so much" is good. It is a breathy, giddy number and Laube's heartfelt lyrics and smooth voice do carry the song far. It is quite a dainty affair with a strong main vocal and warming harmonies. The album as a whole could be summed up with the primary quality of this track, which is going for the idea of the guy reading a book in the bar corner; a strong but quiet character. You can feel the songs emotions rising from it's cool appearance, you can feel the longing in the notes much like the reader's secret inner life. A great track, not a song to miss.
The opening track "Wallflower" is Anna Laube's cover of Bob Dylan's song, one of a growing list of covers that have been made of it. As an opening track it serves it's purpose well, it fits the original material on the album quite well too, it feels like it was written for this album specifically. If track four is the quiet, strong character then the subject of this song is the quiet, shy type not wishing to dance. I find it a nicely gestured cover, but for myself I don't think it adds much to the song. As a listener though you might easily prefer it due to the infusion of personality within it. Instead of Bob Dylan's brashness, it is a slightly slower, encouraging take which might be more familiar to some Country fans. It is like a role reversal as the wallflower who now does dance is taking a more considered approach when approaching another introvert on the dancefloor. That being said her cover "XO" (Beyonce's song) is pretty good in it's own right and is emotive in a more sunny way in contrast to the dark funfair of the Ms Knowles music video.
Track 7, "Please Let it Rain in California Tonight" in my opinion is the best track on the album. As a track that could well come from a tree in a plea for some more environment thoughtfulness it is both universal in some places, "please let the darkness find the light" yet direct in others,"please let the cigarettes all burn down, let the smoke blow far away from this town." The message is like a piano prayer and harkens to some of my favourite piano uses by singer-songwriters in recent years. Here it is just Anna, some hopeful lyrics and a penetrating, arresting piano backing that grabs the attention. Interestingly it does not just ask for resolution and peace with nature, it also calls for a quiet for "addicts" and "orphans" and the difficulties they face. The song seeks a raising of consciousness for all people, about all people, and that gives the song some powerful legs. Laube's voice is especially crystalline and intimate on this track .
Anna Elizabeth Laube's music is like the Spring. It is well mixed and has a sweet, warm dessert sound that speaks of quieter minds whose "still waters run deep." She has a good voice, the album brings a glow and it will suit the listener who like their singer-songwriter tracks that uplift rather than depress, harkening back to certain folk/acoustic music around the time of Dylan's "Wallflower" (when it was written in '71, not the'91 release!) Not the searing heat of a burning grill it is more the gentle bubble and mix of spices and vegetables in a comforting casserole.
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