By turns moody and joyous, Pines is an extended love letter to the natural world. Alison Sudol (a.k.a. A Fine Frenzy) draws upon her recent visits to Pacific Coast forests to lead the listener into landscapes where trees speak and all of creation feels alive. She avoids preciousness while surrounding her lyrics with the most subtly-woven music of her career thus far. Sudol explores the limits of her voice, roaming from falsetto coos to the dusky corners of her lower range amidst delicate acoustic guitars, painterly keyboard washes and softly insistent beats. The pastoral vistas that open up within “Pinesong” set the tone for the vividly evocative tunes to follow. Songs like the slightly dissonant“Winds of Wonder” and the swirling “Avalanches (Culla’s Song)” are at once eerie and inviting, childlike and wise. “They Can’t If You Don’t Let Them” adds some Tori Amos-like bite to the album, offering contrast to the buoyant, R&B-inflected “It’s Alive” and the radiantly hopeful “Now is the Start.”  Frequently gorgeous and consistently inspired, Pines takes Sudol to the upper reaches of the singer/songwriter’s art.

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