While listening to an afternoon show on my local NPR station a couple of weeks ago, I randomly caught an interview with Ari Picker, the frontman and central creative force behind North Carolina folk band Lost in the Trees. He was on the show to discuss the band's second album, recently released, titled "A Church That Fits Our Needs."
What I heard first when I turned on my car radio was a combination of gorgeous orchestration, haunting vocals and bewitching melodies. Before I could process what I was hearing logically, I was swept immediately into the emotion of the music, in a way that rarely, rarely happens for me. Even some of my current favorite artists have been acquired tastes, growing on me over time. But the song I heard had me absolutely transfixed, and I lost all sense of time and place as I began to try to determine what I was hearing. As much as I enjoy listening to "The Afternoon Shift" with Steve Edwards, I tend to hear discussions about city politics and other more news-radio-ish bits. I checked and double-checked that it was really my NPR station, thinking I had maybe caught a college indie station or something. As the song finished playing, I heard the familiar talk show host's voice return as he continued to narrate the interview. I was definitely going to listen in for this one.
I appreciated hearing songwriter Ari Picker's perspective on the album and his writing process - it is always oddly comforting to hear such familiar life cycles and patterns articulated by strangers who just happen to have the same type of job as Ryan. There are always many aspects and patterns that sound the same, and also some that are not. From the interview, I gathered that much if not all of the subject matter of the record centers around Picker's personal experience processing his mother's suicide a couple of years back. He spoke of wanting to empower her, to protect and honor her legacy, to eliminate the myth that because she took her own life, she must have been powerless. No wonder there was such incredible depth and emotion.
After a short conversation, they played another song from the album (I had missed that first song title), this one called "Villain (I'll stick around)." The host explained that the song would begin with an audio clip of Picker's mother, salvaged from a cassette tape he had found while sorting through her things. She herself was an artist, and this was a clip of her interviewing another local artist many years before. This song is officially my favorite. Listen to "Villain" here.
I sat in the car until the interview concluded, because I didn't want to miss any of it. I bought their album the same day, and I have listened through it only a few times, because I find the music and melody so moving that I can only handle listening to these songs when I can give them my full attention. They evoke a similar response as a poignant scene in a dramatic film, or a particularly lovely passage in a novel: art which demands savoring. I love knowing that the album is there in my iTunes, ready and waiting for those moments when I can linger in that space.
If you have not heard of "Lost in the Trees," I encourage you to check them out here on their website. And you can hear the interview that I originally heard here!