27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
Alison has always proven to be an amazing storyteller and she showcases her skills even more so on Pines. Many of the songs are slow but they are hauntingly beautiful. The songs have layers of depth but are simplistic in style; you can tell that every note, every sound, every instrument in the music was put there intentionally to help tell the story that Alison wanted told.
The emotions throughout the album ebb and flow with each song. There are periods where the songs are slow, and even a bit sad, and then a faster track kicks in. I feel that the album needs to be viewed as a whole, and not necessarily picked apart song by song. It represents a person finding themself, (which is resolved at the end, made clear by songs like "It's Alive" and "Now Is The Start") but not before long periods of sadness and frustration. It may be a bit shocking to hear a faster track amidst a sea of sadder songs but it is true to life; our emotions change minute by minute, day by day, and I feel that the album does an excellent job of making that point and taking you on the rollercoaster of emotions a person feels while trying to figure out who they are.
This is her most personal album yet and the emotion and conviction with which she sings the songs makes that evident. This album is a true beauty.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Upon first listen, I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed. I read the early reviews (one in particular) that mentioned a lack of identity and theme. There were enough good songs in her offering for me to give the CD more of a chance. What I noticed was that the artist seemed to be blending the success that she experienced in both her first and second CDs. While some of the songs were upbeat and reminded me of her second CD (Bomb in A Birdcage), when pitted alongside the slower ballads, they seemed just a tad out of place. When rearranging the order of the "Pine" tracks, I discovered what I quietly and hopefully suspected--that is: this CD surpasses her other two in both depth and maturity. If you are curious, listen to the tracks in the following order: #3,#1,#9,#7,#5,#13,#10,#12,#4,#8,#11,#2,& #6.
To truly appreciate this CD, one must pay close attention to both the lyrics and the message that she is trying to convey. This is a very spiritual record that focuses on the importance of self-acceptance and moving forward in life. From what I can tell, Allison is more than a capable teacher; she is a master and we are her apprentices! While she alludes to events within her own life journey, this is the type of record that the listener can truly take to heart and relate their own life experiences to. This, I think, is what makes "Pines" so compelling. This CD is focused on conveying an honest and uplifting message meant for all who will take the time to listen.
Some of "Pines" many musical highlights are as follows:
Track #1--Pinesong is about waking up from a broken dream and "pining" toward the next moment. She begins, "The time has come for giving up/I have lost/I wanted to become what I cannot". She continues: "The words you speak stir things in me that I thought were gone/Their faint white heat melts centuries deep in frost".
On Track #5--The Sighting, she touches on the importance of living in each moment, "I wish that you would Jump/But I can see your ties run deep and its not for me to cut you free".
Track #6--Dream in the Dark is about taking advantages of the opportunities we are given in life: "Spent my life waiting for a sight of the sea/Been sitting beside it and you're all that I've seen".
Track #9--They Can't If You Don't Let Them is about trusting your inner voice. She sings: "Fog and fears and a mouthful of hot tears can drown that voice sent to guide you/ And wicked tongues with their hooks and their ice blood can wake the demons inside you".
Track #11--Its Alive is about hoping for a defining moment even in the midst of sunken memories. She exclaims: "Never say never say never/say the sunken ship/For you never know where you're going to go...You can't be tethered to a ghost/To a memory/You've got to swim".
On Track #12--Now Is the Start, she sings about living in the present moment--Right Now: "Go and it goes with you where you go/The most faithful of friends, you don't need to think, you already know/You are right as you are"
Her last song, Track #13--Untitled, in my opinion, is the most profound and inspiring of all her songs. She summarizes everything conveyed so far in the CD: "Let your breath fill the empty space/Where you used to keep the dead weight/Where you stand is where you belong/The place you've been looking for all along
Other notable themes I will mention to the reader only in passing:
Track #2--Winds of Wander: Loosening the reins of the past and drift to where your "breath" is leading you.
Track #3--Avalanches: In the silence of our own breath, there are no avalanches.
Track #4--Riversong: Flow like the river and you will find out where you belong.
In closing, let me just say that this record demands the listener's full attention and is best heard with earphones. It is definitely not the kind of record that makes for good background music. That being said, this is probably one of the most edifying CDs I have ever heard in my life. It truly possesses the potential to change your life forever.
Well done, Allison!!
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2012
I was so excited for this album.
I bought One Cell In The Sea back when it came out in 2007, and I liked it a lot. Her sweet voice and piano captured me into buying her second album, Bomb In A Birdcage, in 2009. I absolutely fell in love with this album. It took her music to the next level, a little more upbeat, and her song-writing abilities shined like never before. Alison has inspired my own music greatly and my lyrics. I cover her songs a lot when I play live.
I saw on twitter she was making a new album called Pines. I saw the "album trailer" on YouTube and got even more excited.
Finally, after months of waiting, Pines was released and I went out to buy it.
I popped it in my computer, put on my skullcandy headphones, closed my eyes and gave it a listen. I'm writing this review as I listen to the album for the second time.
1. The opening song, Pinesong, I was very impressed with. It begins with a haunting cello, then brings in an acoustic guitar duet. Alison's voice is as beautiful as ever. More beautiful than the previous albums, which is why this review has three stars. It gets a little more exciting with drums and bass. But I emphasize the word "little."
2. I thought the next track would be more exciting. But no. Winds of Wander opens with quiet birds chirping, then a relatively boring guitar melody. Alison's voice really shines, but it's wasted on a melody that is very boring. In comes some piano, and cello. Honestly, this track really has nothing special about it. It's boring. Just boring.
3. Next comes Avalanches (Culla's Song). Alison's lyrics shine. "You bring light and second chances" really pops out to me. This song is much more what you would have heard on One Cell.
4. Riversong begins with a slow and full-sounding piano. I find this song sounds similar to "The Beacon" from Bomb In A Birdcage. If you're curious as to which song was on the Pines Album Trailer, it's this one. In comes some cello. I absolutely LOVE the lyrics in this.
5. The Sighting begins with guitar and Alison's lyrics. I don't find anything special about it, really.
6. Dream In The Dark begins with an acoustic guitar, almost sounding like a ukulele. It may be a six-string ukulele. I can't decide which it is. Alison's voice sounds far away, or like it was recorded on an iPhone with a bit of background noise and the quality not being very good. There's a solo of this ukulele-sounding instrument that eventually fades out, and then we hear about 10 seconds of ocean waves.
7. Next is Sailingsong. This is very upbeat! Something I would expect from Bomb In A Birdcage. Not really her best though. You'll know what I mean when you hear it. It has a repetitive feel.
8. Sadseasong's introduction are two violins that don't seem to know what each other is playing. It fades into a dreamy sounding escape. Then starts an average-sounding song. Nothing special about this one, either.
9. They Can't If You Don't Let Them's introduction is pretty funky. Then begins a "Norah Jones-Not Too Late(Album)" sounding song. I honestly don't really like this track's sound. Alison's voice is really excellent though.
10. Dance Of The Grey Whales begins with a whale-cry sounding moment. This song is an instrumental. The rest of the song is piano.
11. It's Alive is my favourite track on this whole album. It actually sounds like a combination of what you would have heard on One Cell and Bomb In A Birdcage. Yes, both. I love this song.
12. Now Is The Start was the first single. It sounds similar to It's Alive. It's a bit odd that she'd place It's Alive and this song next to one another on the track listing. It has a bit of an electronic and pop influence. You'll really notice it 2:30 into the song.
13. Untitled (Grasses Grow) I love this track as well. This also sounds similar to The Beacon from Bomb In A Birdcage. Alison's voice is very pure. It's a nice end to an alright album.
On my iTunes, I gave 5 stars to six of the tracks: Pinesong, Avalanches (Culla's Song), Riversong, Dream In The Dark, It's Alive, Now Is The Start, and Untitled (Grasses Grow). 4 stars to three tracks: Sailingsong, Sadseasong, Dance Of The Grey Whales. 3 stars to two tracks: The Sighting, They Can't If You Don't Let Them. 2 stars to one track: Winds of Wander.
This is my review of Pines. Overall, it's worth buying. But it's definitely my least favourite album of hers.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
I agree that this album is completely different from anything that AFF has previously released.
That said, I cannot remember a time when I was so moved by the vulnerability of an album.
"Riverside" might be the most beautiful thing I have ever heard, I almost wept. My only real complaint is that the up tempo songs that were added, felt like they were added to bring some diversity, but didn't fit the overall theme of the album. This is a very chill, peaceful, relaxing album and those additional songs really just don't follow the organic direction that the rest of the album was taking.
Overall, it felt like a journey. She sticks to the "pines, nature, outdoors, peace" theme really well without feeling like she was trying too hard.
Let's face it, an artist this talented, with such an exquisite and unique sound, could make an album of her reading the phone book and it'd still be a million times better than half the other auto-tuned, over processed garbage out there. This girl is a real artist and while it's not exactly like everything else she's put out, it was still a joy to take this journey. She pretty much had me at "Riverside" but the whole album is a real joy. If you love her voice, this won't fail you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Listening to A Fine Frenzy's newest album, PINES, I was somewhat bewildered. I frequently checked the MP3 player to ensure that I was indeed listening to Alison Sudol. While I absolutely love this album, I'm not sure how most of her fans will receive it.
ONE CELL IN THE SEA was a pretty straight-forward pop record. Sudol's voice and piano were frequently dominating the mix, but at the core of it, the album was a solid work from a great songwriter. Her second full-length album, BOMB IN A BIRDCAGE, was a bit different. It didn't feel exactly like a pop record -- Sudol's willingness to try new things made the album different from its predecessor and (at least for me) a great success. Alison Sudol's third album really comes from left field. Because BOMB IN A BIRDCAGE dabbled in atmostpherics and electronics, I was expecting something similar, but PINES a stripped down, minimalist affair.
From the very first track, it's obvious that this album is going to be different than anything A Fine Frenzy has ever done before. The introductory track, "Pinesong" is slow to begin, and it leads with a wonderful acoustic guitar riff. The only thing recognizable here is Alison Sudol's wonderful voice -- these songs do have hints of her songwriting, but for the most part, it feels dramatically different. I honestly don't know if I have seen such a leap in songwriting: PINES is mature, confident, and vulnerable. "Riversong" feels like a reverent prayer to nature, and "Dream in the Dark" barely contains more than just Sudol's vocals. This song sets the pace for most of the songs to come, and mostly, the spare, lonely atmospheres that are created here having a huge beating heart at the core of them. The tone is so consistent that when "It's Alive" comes in with its electronics and percussion, it's a bit jarring, even though his song sounds like something we would have expected from A Fine Frenzy.
While I have to say that this is my favorite A Fine Frenzy record to date, it's not without its few problems. The album isn't always consistent: "It's Alive," and "Now is the Start" sound like songs that would have been prepared for BOMB IN A BIRDCAGE. The melodies aren't as strong here either: there's no "Almost Lover" or "Electric Twist" that are immediately accessible. I don't know if I would blindly recommend this to other A Fine Frenzy -- I would strongly recommend fans to sample this album before diving in. Fans of Sara Bareilles and Norah Jones should find a good bit here to love. The minimal instrumentation might not be everyone's cup of tea. Essential tracks to sample/download: "Pinesong," "Winds of Wander," and "It's Alive."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2012
Just like most people are saying, this album does differ from her other two... Obviously as it should.
Pines is a story, so to get the full affect of the album you do need to listen to each song through. And if you do and find you are not willing to take the journey with Alison, then that is fine.
But one thing that should be noted, this album is a story.
It is not one single "popular" song trying to carry the album to success.
I almost feel as though she wrote and created this album without the slightest care of mainstream success.
This album is for the heartbroken, the lost.. the "I don't know if I want to even get out of bed today" kinds of people.
It has soothed my bones and mended my heart and rid my body of all my emotional wounds.
I love Pines, and I think if you were to listen to it with its intent in mind; letting the words cradle your heart as the melody calms your soul,
I believe you too, will love Pines.
Much love and respect goes to Alison Sudol.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2013
I fell in love with One Cell in the Sea and played it frequently for months after discovering it. Rangers is still in my "faves" playlist. This album felt darker, slower, and more depressing to me. It doesn't contain any songs that capture me in quite the same way, and seems to lack the momentum present in songs from the first two albums.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2014
Seriously love this band, and Allison is the sweetest in person! The CD was definitely different than the other two but I love everything she writes. For some reason, this girl really gets me. Anyway, it came quickly, works great, and I listen to it all the time, so thanks!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2012
This is an excellent album. With some catchy and alternative stuff and some smooth and eclectic stuff.
I would definitely recommend this album.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
Frenzy changes up her sound just a bit, but I still love it. I love listening to this album on cold winder days while doing homework.