Music doesn't work if your jaded or cynical in any way. Either you go along for the ride or you don't. Personally, I find undaunted optimism in music very brave and honest, even if I don't always gravitate towards that end of the spectrum. I love that people feel passionately enough about beauty and positivity to spread it around. It's so easy to talk about the negative things all the time, to get wrapped up in anger and bogged down by bitterness.
Music is, at its very core, an optimistic, constructive act. It is an alchemical transformation of life into the strictures of song - constrained within verses, bars, choruses, all the moments of life. Whether you care to assemble with the purest gold or the dirtiest mire is entirely at your discretion and there is, after all, a place for all art. It’s just that sometimes, often times, the tin and the tumult tends to drown out the quieter, more peaceful souls. If we're not careful, we might forget they're there all together.
To All Things from The Living Roots Trio is a murmured rejoinder to walk around, to look around, to take stock, to ponder, to step outside of the chaos of life for an hour. Music's great like that; it's like a portable, foldable mountain meadow that you can take out whenever you need it. It's like having an emergency deep breath. Thinking of To All Things as a meadow is a good way to approach this sweet gem of a folk record. It's a bit ragged around the edges, a bit of a microphone burn here, a raw field recorded trumpet there - some phoned in MacBook vocals. If you find fault in the seams, you're likely to get jarred out of the spell. Personally, I like a bit of grit in my acoustic music. It adds to the sense of immediacy and closeness and honesty, coming across like a documentarian's camera rather than a VH1 spectacle.
The Living Roots Trio pre-dominantly ply a quiet, subtle British-style folk, delicate, ringing guitar picking a la Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Nick Drake, which quickly breaks into an American jazz-inflected swing blues, that is pure '20s class, like with the Django Reinhardt-worthy "Any Good Name" complete with Grapelli violin. Meaghan Witri's vocal harmony brings a lovely light to the proceedings, ringing out clear as a bronze bell over the smooth burr of Seamus Maynard's cello tenor. These voices twining in thin air, over a barely there two-note guitar refrain, is just one momentary example of the joys that lie in store To All Things.
For anyone into M. Ward's revisionist history, or the time traveling talking blues of Wilco or Billy Bragg is likely to find a favorite song on here. But they also bring an airy, graceful gentility to the folk gathering that is particularly, stunningly beautiful, giving a rarefied air to these 47 minutes. It's like looking at the world through lace curtains; Or just stopping to notice the flowers.
It's getting nice out there. Crack the window a bit and let this one float!
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