Thursday, September 10, 2015

Billy, Molly, Dean Sing Up Trees

It's only natural to hope that shared interests and relationships bring forth the best from all those involved in a collaborative process. When you're talking about TREES (actual trees and the new children's music CD of the same title), it's literally and figuratively natural.

Produced in part from a grant from the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, TREES is the work of three distinctive recording talents – Billy Kelly, Molly Ledford (of Lunch Money fame), and ubiquitous producer Dean Jones. The disc is a paean to a specific aspect of our surrounding universe, namely, the importance of trees. Did you know, for instance, that 24 percent of New York real estate is taken up by trees? There are a total of more than 5.2 million trees in New York City alone. Just extrapolate that number across the entire state, let alone the United States and the world. Indeed, why has nobody else thought to address this shortfall before now?

Billy and Molly alternate lead vocals on TREES, with plenty of opportunities for each of them to put their considerable charms on display. This project bumped back future releases of their own material, however TREES is a delightful, admirable walk of wonder through the woods of imagination. That's an old chestnut, but heck, chestnuts grow on trees. Song topics range from obvious ("Trees") to the scientific ("I, Wood") to go deep inside their premise:

How does the water move
From the roots
To the leaves up in the canopy?
I take it on up through millions of microscopic tubes
In a tissue called ‘xylem’
And you’ll find it in
Every tree from here to Timbuktu
Who ‘s making sure that xylem’s working like it should?
Who could?
I, Wood

The overriding (but never anxious or strident) theme of TREES is preservation. Sadly, this has become timely in an era of drought, climate change, and record forest fires on the West Coast. There's only so much that an individual can accomplish to help any single tree. But voices in joined harmony can achieve mighty things. And TREES aims at low-hanging fruit (it's perfect for young listeners) with 14 tracks addressing "Coniferous Trees," "Meet You By The Roots," and "Two Trees, Old Friends."

What's that sound? Could it be a child falling for the music of TREES in the woods? If nobody is around to hear them listening, then who knows (and don't get me started about bears). TREES delivers for hardcore fans of Billy's snarky lyricism, Molly's sunny optimism, and Dean's instinctive choice of instrumentation (he is credited with more than a dozen on this collection). Your kids may not come away with a new lifestyle choice, but TREES should help them become more aware of the physical world around them.

TREES is available from Billy and Molly's dedicated website, Amazon, CDBABY, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Here is Billy and Molly's video for "(It's Just a) Dumb Ol' Stick":

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