Changing of the Tide : A Review of Towers and Trees, “The West Coast”

A few years ago, I spent some time in Europe. The trip home to Victoria BC was arduous- it took about seventeen hours of straight travel. I was bleary eyed and exhausted, but I will always remember what it felt like to return to the coast for the first time. Getting on the ferry and feeling the sea wind hit my face. Seeing the mountains in the distance- friendly and protective. Tasting the salt and realizing how green the ocean was.  I cried with the beauty of this place I had once taken for granted. This place that I loved with a new rapture. I had not known that I was drowning until I came home and could breathe again.

That is what listening to the new Towers and Trees album is like. Aptly named The West Coast, this album is the next best thing you can get to actually being in British Columbia. From the moment I listened to the first track West Coast Man my first thought was “I need to get my headphones” . Because I selfishly did not want any of the music to reach anyone else. I wanted to scoop it up into my belly so that it could feed my soul. Band leader and front man Adrian Chalifour’s husky alto is inviting as always, but this time it’s accompanied by the beautiful accent of vocalist Andrea Lubberts. Where once there was a monologue, now there is an exchange and their chemistry is clear.

For those fans of the bands EP Broken Record you will not be disappointed. Much like the song they redid for this album We’re Not Islands this has all of the best elements of the first album (Chalifour’s songwriting as one example, the stellar harmonizing of the band as another) but  improves upon them. The diversity of sound in this album is impressive without being overwhelming or distracting. West Coast has more dynamics, more nuance and more to offer. In short- it’s just bigger. If Broken Record was an aperatif for fans, then West Coast is the meal we’ve been salivating for. And you had better be hungry. The whole album reads like a love letter to the setting where it was created and that love is palpable to the listener. West Coast Man is a rejoicing opening anthem, about reveling in the place where you belong while also functioning as an invitation for that which will follow. In short- it’s as welcoming as the place itself.

Free is a song that I saw the band perform a few years ago when it was still being conceived and it’s remarkable how much it has evolved. It’s the anthem of renegades everywhere, the song you listen to when you want to escape your life. “We ain’t free but we could act just like we are.” The lyrics have always been great but now they’re accompanied by soaring crescendos and rhythms that make your heart race. Free is a song that demands movement- you can’t sit still and listen to it.

However the album is not exclusively devoted to the place it describes. Certain songs like Last Breath and Wayward Love are downright heartbreaking. They are tortured lamentations built for walking Ogden Point in stormy weather after you’ve had your heart broken. “What if it’s my job to love you?” Chalifour wonders.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Love Song for No Girl In Particular laps at you like a warm bath. It plays with you with deceptively simple melodies and harmonies. This is a song for Tofino sunsets and Stanley Park afternoons- this is the song where you feel as if you’re in love just by listening to it. It’s fun and sexy and flirtatious without being saccharine.

All I can say about their new single “Bad Heart” is that it will get you pregnant. You were warned.

If you haven’t heard their music before, or if you’ve been to every single concert, you’re in for a treat. Don’t trust me, trust them. Towers and Trees are going to make you love them, for all the right reasons. These guys are all about music that makes you care, and heal and feel. This is the music that makes you realize why you love music. Because it’s deliberate and thoughtful. These are the musicians and artists we have a responsibility to cultivate.

As I write this, I’m thousands of miles from the West Coast. I am sitting at a desk in a landlocked city. I haven’t seen the ocean in months. West Coast, the title track of the album is a song that stings my heart, it’s so bittersweet. “Come away” Chalifour begs. “I WISH I COULD!” I always yell back in my head. So to the band, I have to step out of my critical voice now and just say thank you. Thank you for making an album with so much heart it overflows. Thank you for making music that matters. And as one of many West Coast lovers who isn’t lucky enough to live there, thank you for giving me a little piece of home. Your album helps me breathe.

***Towers and Trees’ newest album The West Coast will be released on October 2nd 2015

Order it  on itunes


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