First Listen

First Listen: Lost In The Trees, 'A Church That Fits Our Needs'

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Lost In The Trees' new album, A Church That Fits Our Needs, comes out March 20. i i

Lost In The Trees' new album, A Church That Fits Our Needs, comes out March 20. Annalee Harkins/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Annalee Harkins/Courtesy of the artist
Lost In The Trees' new album, A Church That Fits Our Needs, comes out March 20.

Lost In The Trees' new album, A Church That Fits Our Needs, comes out March 20.

Annalee Harkins/Courtesy of the artist

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The songs on A Church That Fits Our Needs tell stories the way The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" does, but Lost in the Trees' tunes are impressionistic and nonlinear, so the tales feel different each time.

The new record, out March 20, celebrates the life of songwriter Ari Picker's mother. And, though it tells an intensely sad tale of a life that included the death at birth of her twin daughters, depression, cancer and her suicide shortly after she left her son's wedding, Ari Picker still finds a way to embrace her sad yet creative life. And he does it with the help of a folk orchestra in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Lost in the Trees' members are creative and schooled musicians on cello, violin, viola, tuba, piano, guitar, bass, percussion and ethereal voices. Picker plays a 12-string guitar that he strings with only six, and he sings lead with angelic yearning and a gift for packing lots of thoughts into small phrases. Picker also orchestrates the music, and though he's relatively new at it, he studied at Berklee School of Music. He conjures up swirling moments of wonder so effectively, I'm reminded of that fabulous scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho where Janet Leigh runs off with embezzled money to the orchestrations of Bernard Herrmann.

The music that stays with me often takes a little bit of commitment on my part — a bit less passive listening and a bit more active engagement. The last Lost in the Trees record, All Alone in an Empty House, worked like that for me. The only reason I'll get sucked into that active engagement, that deeper listening, is usually some sort of seduction; some sort of mystery inside the music. I recommend taking advantage of this First Listen, but also finding time for a third and fourth. Listen to the space, that "church" Lost in the Trees created for A Church That Fits Our Needs. It's the sound of a band taking tragedy and coming to terms with it, finding beauty in a life too short and weaving bittersweet melody out of melancholy.

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First Listen