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I first came across the music of White Pines last year with the release of the beautiful five track EP A Face Made Of Wood – an EP which I absolutely loved. I was therefore stoked to discover that Joseph Scott, the man behind the Pines, had released his debut full length in the form of ‘The Falls’.

Album reviews are so hard for me to write, but when you love an album you almost feel obliged to dedicate at least three or four paragraphs to it, don’t you? For some reason, saying ‘it just sounds good’ or ‘I love it’ doesn’t seem to be enough. People require reasons and proof for said love.

Maybe I should start with what I was doing when I listened to the album for the first time. I was in the park around 10am on my day off. I had a paper, a coffee and the sky above me looked like this:

Opening song ‘Churchyard’ kicked in and I remember stopping midway through some irrelevant article about some irrelevant person and instead paying close attention to the layered vocals and subtle piano. That part around the 1.20 minute mark where the vocals stop and the sound just explodes (well explode might be overstating it slightly, but ‘gets bigger’ doesn’t sound quite right) kills me every time, I love it. And the chimes at the end? Beautiful!

‘Woods’ is also a standout track and it’s one of those songs that gets me all melancholy because it features lines like we all feel our age much more out in the cold and is one of those so-beautiful-it’s-sad kinda songs. There’s some accordion action partway through it too and I just lap that stuff up.

Woods – White Pines

I also love little things like the background shuffle noise at the start of ‘Valley’, one of two instrumental tracks on the album, and the feathery snare in the stunning ‘Homes’. The beautifully meandering ‘Half Beast’ immediately won me over with all that lovely pedal steel and ‘Across The Sky’ has an almost menacing feeling to it that I can’t quite put words to, but works for me all the same. ‘Departing’ is yet another stunning track, low on word count but big on sound.

‘Hinterland’ is that other instrumental track that I mentioned and in the space of a minute and a half it seems to move from morning to night, bird calls present from the beginning to the end of the track, becoming more and more urgent as the sound progresses and then fading into the cymbal splash of ‘Armor’. This song in particular really illustrates the amazing musical vision of Joseph Scott.

Album closer ‘Warriors’ is yet another gorgeous song and seems to showcase all that is wonderful about White Pines – slow builds, beautiful layered sounds, introspective lyrics and incredible musicianship. I had to listen to this album three times before I was able to leave the park. One of my favourites of 2010 – no question.

‘The Falls’ is available in digital format through Yer Bird Records for a mere $10. There are also a few tour dates on the horizon for White Pines in the next month or so – check his myspace for details.

I’ll leave you with this bonus track from 2009’s A Face Made Of Wood. Enjoy!

Speak with the Dead – White Pines