With a cream and black cover that looks like that of a 1920s LP from somewhere way out west, where the hats are big and their wearers are bigger, The Blue Trees makes statements before it is even listened to.
There follows a pleasant meandering old country style album, with fiddles, plucked acoustic guitars and just occasionally, vocals. If you wanted a soundtrack to a country-western romance movie, this would be it. Title track The Blue Trees allows bells to get in the way of the otherwise entirely acoustic sound on offer, where one thinks that in This Summer’s Been Good From The Start the only thing missing is some “yee-hahs”.
Foot and Mouth ’68 is a weird fusion of accordian and guitar and is quite simply mood music. ‘Wrong Turnings’ conjures images of a lone horseman going about the mid-west in search of… whatever lone horsemen search for. Yeees.
Just when we think it is safe to write this album off as a project in country music by a bunch of Welshmen, along comes Fresher Than The Sweetness In Water, something that sounds like Beck without the lo-fi junk attached. Excellent! But it still has guitars and fiddles – and somebody who sounds like a demented chicken. Must be country music after all, then. Face Like Summer features that most rare of instruments, the piano. It is as close to a ballad as this record gets. Sbia Ar Y Seren is rather ballady as well, but brings back guitar plucking and fiddles as it’s main raison d’etre.
Being a mini-LP, the stylised music doesn’t even have time to grate, although in places it sounds a little like Belle and Sebastian and Mojave 3, had they plucked rather than strummed and invested in an accordian (remember those?). For a band that’s been around for ten years now, it resolutely faces away from fame and fortune and, ultimately, produces carefree, beautifully crafted music for anyone who will listen. This album not only deserves your love, but your respect as well.