by Aaron Kinney
If I had to classify an EP using only two words, my first choices would likely be raw and untrained. And while Joshua Worden’s The Withered Tree has quite a bit of the former, it’s anything but the latter.
The Withered Tree is a curious mish-mash of R&B, rock, electronic and Americana, but it manages the difficult task of balancing these disparate elements quite admirably. And while it can’t be overstated that this is a very raw affair, it must also be said that Worden’s no amateur.
Tracked and mixed in about three months, with many parts written scant hours before recording, The Withered Tree flows remarkably well. It’s stylish and mellow, supplementing its otherwise simple melodies with layers of electronic tunes and ambience.
It opens with the thoughtful Salted Graces, a downbeat, jazzy, electronic tune about knowing all the answers. The infectious, cheery Home follows, keeping up the slow, relaxing momentum. The pensive Waves calls to mind a lot of images of the sea, electronic tones fading softly in and out to a soft beat. The bouncy Oh the Silence is a bit deceptive with its melancholy lyrics—and that’s all just fine.
In fact, most of The Withered Tree is very good, though A Lonesome Sound does falter a bit, sounding rather stilted in the middle. Still, there’s nothing here that stands out as particularly bad. If you like one track, chances are good that you’ll like them all.
Being Worden’s first solo effort, it sounds as though he’s still finding his footing, but it’s clear that he’s a talented artist. The fact that he’s managed to make so many different styles and elements fit together in a remotely cohesive manner is impressive. And while the record itself won’t set the world on fire, it’s a fine first effort that offers a tantalizing picture of what Worden might produce next.
Despite a couple of hitches, but it is a delightful album. It’s a little out there at times, but if you’re looking for something different-yet-familiar, The Withered Tree is easy to recommend.
THE WITHERED TREE – album review
by Aaron Kinney