Forest Impressions

(Musings on Wick - Forest by Erin Ludwig)
 The curtains open as the songs begin. Themes of fading hope and innocence, regret and dark musings wax and wane over a landscape of billowing canopies of sound, ancient somehow, magic, calling into existence giant forest trees and hanging moss and unknowns. An archetypical lyrical Sad Clown, a fool, a minstrel and life-traveler, enters a deep dark woodland in his wanderings, stage left: lamenting, could have, would have, should have.
From the simple folkie and Mod-leaning (Small Faces, Kinks-like) harmonies, almost baroque musical sensibilities, in Not On a Thursday; to these dynamic haunting chanting drones, especially noted in Built Into the System; and while wistful lyrics beckon an elusive Muse to a clearing, in A Perfect Melody, the overall aural architecture evokes a stumbling journey through a green hushed forest of twisted roots, evasive footholds, a very occasional sunbeam piercing the loam, and a pervasive, immersive shadow of poignancy.
The production of Forest is LUSH, flourishing, layered and reminiscent, in my immediate association, of a vintage Beach Boys album. Further listening soon revealed influences (to my ear) of crashing and spare grunge (esp First Love Song, which totally catches lyrically that hard-to-capture brooding); great-great-great grandaddy Pink Floyd still adding colors to the palette, watercolor here vs. technicolor; The Cars (My Gray Girl with unexpected minor keys, power guitar and keyboards, and a tinny spare electronic snare).
While I Drown is a standout as chilly gray, quietly desperate lyrics float, disassociated, on top of a sweet California muscle-car arrangement, stunningly layered, and with a fade-out that becomes a jam all on its own; weirdly and appropriately, as we listen to our traveler go under, sink through the waves, light to dark, into the depths of a bottomless lake...whether by design or accident, we don't know, and that is haunting in itself.
Further atmospheric additions throughout the work of jangly jaunty cigar-box guitar, old-timey ballpark organ, (haunted) carousel music box, doo-wop, chants, and weaving harmonies and motifs really bring this ancient forest to life in our current place in time, and we can see the that these emotions are the thread that stitches together the human condition; the forest still exists-- primal, deep, cool in the grooves of our technology and distractions, breathing and waiting for us to tap into a collective memory of dark woods, a reluctant and burdened traveler, notes and harmonies provided by Muses, mapping a verdant visual topography-- that continues to resonate after the album ends. 
When you still think about the music later, and the images evoked linger, you know you're on the path. 
Erin Ludwig 
Crossroads Promotions
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