At first glance, Tall Trees sounds like the many other rock outfits that have listened to far too much of their parent’s Led Zeppelin albums. The dead give-away here is not just the fast, blues laden guitar riffs, but front man Jad Hammoud’s eerie similarity to Robert Plant’s vocals. But, unlike bands with the end goal of being the next Led Zeppelin, Tall Trees are already accomplished musicians who are now just introducing themselves to the musical world.
All three members of this Ontario trio—Hammoud, Ethan Mitchell and Josh Wynnyk—are barely nineteen years old, yet can probably play “Stairway to Heaven” in their sleep. Surely their musical interests will expand, especially at the University of Ottawa where they are all studying music, and building off their classical training.
So, what about the album? Well, How To Take A Fall is certainly more than just something to build off of, even though the band describes it as “purely the beginning.” These three young men are better musicians than most accomplished rockers. Yes, the lyrics are, at times, rich with youthful hallmarks, but it’s nearly impossible to not sing along to the catchy chorus at the heart of “The Girl on My Mind.” The mix of raw angst and emotion evident on these eleven tracks is something no musical school can teach; the inherent talent simply cannot be ignored.
Hammoud’s guitar playing leads the way for the instruments as it rolls and rambles, switching from acoustic finger-picking, to heavy, jammy riffing. Mitchell and Wynnyk hold down the rhythm section, especially on the constrained “Honey Bee.”
“Honey Bee” might be one of the best overall efforts by the group as Mitchell’s bass and Wynnyk’s drumming are perfectly balanced by Hammoud’s acoustic guitar. The song breathes with energy waiting to be unleashed but unlike most other tracks the group refrains from bursting into a loud, jam session. The song is angsty; there’s a deep emotional undercurrent not only from Hammoud’s best vocal work but also from the trio as a whole.
It’s songs like “Honey Bee,” “The Girl on My Mind” and the dance-y “Fickle Fiendish Friend” that exemplify a group of teenagers brimming with potential. They might not be well known yet but they’re also not even twenty. Keep a close eye on these guys, because their best work is clearly ahead of them, and until then How To Take A Fall is worth the wait.
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