October Tree – The Fairy's Wing (2012)

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Guitarist and songwriter Greg Lounsberry knew that his wife Tammy was a good enough singer to merit an album of prog rock built around her voice, but he needed a worthy vehicle to do this right. Tammy wanted the album to be about fairies and Greg obliged, writing a short tale about fairies he titled The Fairy’s Wing, along with the music to accompany it. Greg played much of the instruments needed for the album — guitars, keyboards, bass, even mandolin — but he enlisted help from fellow Canvas band members Matt Matt Sweitzer, Chris Cobel & John Swope, along with son Daniel Lounsberry to help out. When this was all said and done, they needed a name for this band, or perhaps more accurately, project and came up with “October Tree.”

The best things about The Fairy’s Wing are the things that it is not. It might be a themed prog rock record, but it’s not an overwrought album. The songs are not overlong, moving through sections at the right pace and ending just when you’re ready for them to end. Greg Lounsdberry’s guitar breaks are laconic, making the most of the short time he’s given himself to get out his lead parts. The lyrics do not every bog down into overly opaque, medieval prose or J.R.R. Tolkien-esque discourse; if you want to follow the story, it’s pretty easy to do. Tammy Lounsberry doesn’t over sing the vocals, she understands that operatics aren’t needed to go with music that Greg Lounsberry has kept interesting with distinct intro, segues and even some good grooves, but no bombast. (Tammy, it should be noted, can belt out buckets of soul when it’s called for; listen to her fronting Canvas for a fine cover of Santana’s “Brightest Star” for the evidence.)

Maybe the directness of October Tree’s approach might cause some prog rock connoisseurs to contend that it’s not even truly prog rock, and that’s a thought that’s crossed my mind, too. In the end, tags don’t matter and music that’s easily digestible doesn’t equate to it being easily disposable. The Fairy’s Wing avoids being light by structuring the music around the theme of a story that provides fodder for the lyrics; each song is an episode, or a chapter in the story and like the chapter in a storybook, it takes on its own character, like a story within a story. Greg Lounsberry built the music that way, too; conceiving memorable riffs, changing up the tempos, deploying guitars and keyboards in service of the song instead of the other way around, all while keeping things melodic along the way and a handmade vintage late 70s-early 80s sonic footprint.

The husband-wife team makes many of these tracks bring out the narrative in such a way that you don’t even need to follow it closely to enjoy the music. “The Fairy’s Wing,” (see Youtube above) “Dark Carnival,” the lightly menacing “The Ogre,” and the hopeful finale “Epiphanies” are the choice cuts. The album was built with Tammy in mind, but not every track showcases her: “Into The Glade” and “Cult Of The White Witch” are instrumentals, while “Parallels and “Mirrors” features Greg on lead vocals, who sounds a lot like Greg Lake, not a bad voice to have for this kind of music.

The Lounsberrys crafted a record that is solid and focused, a DIY project that possesses some of he polish and imagination of more major acts. Most refreshing of all, you don’t have to believe in fairies or get into fairy tales to get into The Fairy’s Wing.

The Fairy’s Wing released earlier this month through Canvas Productions. Visit October Tree’s site for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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