Need a gift for a gifted musician?
With their newest release, the indie-folk outfit Lohio creates an album every bit as grand and sweeping as the likes of Arcade Fire or The National, but one that might have been composed on makeshift instruments in someone's backyard workshop. Family Tree has a handmade, almost colloquial feel, and the levity of instrumentation (toy piano anyone?) often belies the weight of the songs. Like a collection of short stories, the EP offers excerpts on life, family, and the inevitable milestones we all encounter, all couched in glowing arrangements and indie-pop hooks.
Lohio is built around the songwriting of Greg Dutton. The band is based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but Dutton's songs capture the pastoral nature of a boy who grew up on an Ohio farm. Often paired with the clear and delicate vocals of Liz Adams, Dutton is also supported by an array of musicians handpicked out the tight-knit Pittsburgh scene. Their use of glee-club-like group vocals add to the feeling that you're listening to the region’s best hometown pageant.
Fans of Sufjan Stevens and The Polyphonic Spree will be delighted with the playful, sunny arrangements on songs like “Leave the City, Leave your Room”. Close listeners will recognize the influence of greats like Neil Young, Granddaddy, and the Flaming Lips on tracks like “Wind and Leaves” and “Funeral Song”. And few will be able to deny the inherent catchiness and subtle complexity of the title track, “Family Tree.”