Friday, January 24, 2014

SWEET GUM TREE: "The Snakes You Charm & The Wolves You Tame"

Rating: RR
Label: Dreamy Bird/Cadiz 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

 "Hey Ginger, beware. They're not going to treat you right out there. Sooner or later they'll be back again to bury your head. Bury the redhead in the playground sand". Indeed. We all agree it's not okay to treat people differently because of skin colour, religion. or whatever really. Gingers on the other hand are still very much the main target to bullies all over the world. Then again, it's barely acceptable to be French in the U.K. and Arno Sojo of Sweet Gum Tree may struggle to find love for his dreamy melancholia.

Ten years as a singer and guitarist in various modern rock and electro bands paved the way for Sojo's new solo incarnation of a somewhat different nature. Influenced by the timeless beauty of vintage records, it embodies his quest for a smoother, more organic sound. Quite the poet as the lyrics speak of posh sinews and not always direct messages. The lush arrangement on the other hand goes under the banner of acoustic textures and bittersweet melodies, showcasing a poetic chamber pop.

Produced by David Odlum (Gemma Hayes) and Peter Deimel (Deus) and among the guest musicians, we can find Isobel Campbell (duest on 'Bird Of Passage'). Tinderstick drummer Earl Harvin and Marty Wilson-Piper from Oz legends, The Church, two of Sojo's strongest influences. Add to this an entire string section, french horns, clarinet, and trumpet. The string arrangements are nice and the melodies are... well, sort of nice too. It feels however like you've been here before, the remarkable feeling of dejá vú? It's all too lightweight and surprisingly ordinary.

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