Tree by Leaf
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Tree by Leaf


Band Americana Alternative


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"Still looking around for socks that Tree by Leaf knocked off (There is a Vine)"

It’s a grey; foggy Sunday afternoon as I work on my second cup of decaf at the kitchen table listening to There is a Vine (LongAgoLight), the new record from Tree by Leaf. It’s on the last track and I’ll need to pop up and start it over momentarily because I am digging it bigtime.
It’s hard not to, Tree by Leaf are a consistently fantastic band.

Meanwhile, Demi-Tasse, the 3 ½ pound Yorkie I’m dogsitting for is passed out by my feet on her fleece square. She doesn’t hear, or for that matter, see particularly well but I get the sense she’s digging this record too.

Tree by Leaf have just released their fifth record; There is a Vine (LongAgoLight) and will be having two release shows this weekend. Friday night they’ll be at The Rockport Opera House and then on Saturday night you can see them here in Portland at The Dogfish Bar and Grille. There is a Vine encapsulates everything that is so divine about this band. About 30 seconds into the opening track “Over and Over” I knew I was hooked. Between the vocals and guitar of Garrett Soucy, and the scintillating back-up vocals of Siiri Soucy, not to mention Garrett’s sage like lyrics, it’s ridiculous how good this band is. I mean business, people.

Track 2, “Chicago at Night” was written by Garrett’s sister Erica and is driven by Siiri on lead vocals and her voice reminds me of everything I love about oh I don’t know, say Mazzy Star, over the course of three minutes and twenty two seconds of musical bliss. “I like Chicago at night when the taxi lights are shining, so if I change my mind, I can catch my mind, I can catch a ride back into hiding.” Each track slips into the next and I’m drawn further and further into the abyss of Tree by Leaf; one that whirls around in alt. country, folk, Americana, and even an essence of gospel, at least to my ears. I could write about this record for days as each song winds its way up my headphone wires. “Fraud” is another one that Siiri takes lead on and her voice along with what I think is a dobro and a ukulele is nothing less than enchanting. Then Garrett jumps on lead vocals again with “Come on Babe,” the gutsy surrender of a love song, complete with just the right amount of harmonica from Garrett, the enchanting keyboards of Cliff Young and the inspired percussion from Eric Sanders.

I’ve barely had a moment to recover when Siiri starts in again with “Little Lost and Lonely.” “It’s better to forget than live with regret,” she sings, her voice illuminating Garrett’s words. During a song like this, there is no tense but the present and for about five minutes, there is no place I’d rather be than on this couch on a Monday night, with the lights turned down low and this fervent offering of perfection. Here’s the thing, I want to write about every single song on this record but I’ve got a bunch of other shows to get to so I’ll just pick one more lyric to leave you with. I’m slayed by this record and have had many certifiable “moments” over the past few days listening to it and I just wanna shake you all and tell you to catch one of their shows and more importantly, pick up a copy of There is a Vine. I skip to the song, “Believe it.” “Believe it. It’s not your vision; it’s the season. I keep on reaching but the ceiling just keeps on teasing.” P.S. Head to

- Portland Press Herald

"Tree by Leaf's "Of the Black & the Blue""

’I'm speaking, but are you listening?’ So ask Tree By Leaf - My advice is to pin back your ears. It is a privilege of music journalism that never diminishes with time – the knowledge that through your work, you occasionally announce the presence of an Artist to a hither- to largely unaware audience. This band definitely fall into that prestigious category – I am excited by this album in a way only Post to Wire and Loomer’s Love Is A Dull Instrument have managed to arouse in me in recent memory. 'Of The Black & The Blue' is the third release from the trio based in Freedom, Maine.

In addition to Garrett Soucy's songs and guitar playing, he shares lead vocal duties with one Siiri Soucy (cue White Stripes like enquiries at the local Centre for Birth, Deaths & Marriages, or we could of course, just ask them) as well as the keyboards of Clifford Young. For the purposes of this album, producer Ezra Rugg does his Ethan Johns thing & plays drums and bass parts, while the guitars are augmented by some quite stunning contributions from Nick Cody.

There is something about this record that grabs me & I am struggling to define precisely what it is - a slight problem when it comes to communicating a review, granted. The songs and arrangements are not exactly taking risks, but there are elements that elevate Tree By Leaf way above their peers. Part of it is the synergy between the two Soucy voices. Siiri is no backing vocalist - her delivery on songs such as 'Give It All That You Can' and the self penned 'There Is A Last Time' are forth write and confident. For his part, Garrett has an interesting voice - on 'Never Seems To Leave' he is the image of Jeff Tweedy singing How To Fight Loneliness, while 'The Last Song Luke Seamon Gave To Me' is pure Eitzel. Those comparisons afford me an excellent link into Soucy's writing style, for it is they & perhaps Coner Oberst that come to mind when listening to his work. It is a use of at once personal but still universal narrative that set him toe to toe against anyone writing within the genre at this time. A combination that, perhaps, he best describes himself, 'perfect time, capture meter, rhythm, complex verse & rhyme.... I am beat, you can sing on key’ (Never Seems To Leave).

On an initial listen, it seems that, for the first half of the record at least, Tree by Leaf are a little too earnest & tightly wrapped... By the second or third time of asking, when you really begin to understand where Soucy is coming from, a realisation dawns that the joke is on the listener 'Join the melancholy chorus, its sad, it's sad, we're awfully sad' is, in fact, a piss take of massive proportions. In Tree By Leaf, Garrett Soucy has a perfect conduit for his black humour and intriguing lyrics and in Garrett Soucy we have a new writer of whom we must sit up and take notice. 'Rupert Sheldrake’s Favorite' and 'Regardless of the Cost' are as good as anything I have heard all year (& beyond) and, taken as a whole, Of the Black & he Blue suggest a band with unbridled potential, merely a lucky break away from not just a privileged few like me being aware of it.
- Americana-UK Reviews

"Some albums have a season (Of the Black & the Blue)"

Some albums have a season, and Of the Black and the Blue is definitely a fall album. With its sad-yet-hopeful vibe, it is music of crisp Sunday afternoons sipping apple cider - a soundtrack for foliage lovers everywhere. Tree by Leaf have made a stellar Americana record that showcases the undeniable songwriting abilities of singer Garret Soucy and the beautifully lush voice of his wife, Siiri. Piano man Clifford Young accompanies the Soucys, and together they weave a soulful, catchy brand of folk pop that would fit right in on a Bonnaroo stage. There is a pensive tone to the record, but on the opener, "Melancholy Chorus," the sadness almost seems satirical. The whole record is peppered with finely crafted musicianship but the real magic is in the fusion of intermingling voices, as Garrett and Siiri form a harmonic web that is both haunting and ache-inducing. On "Rupert Sheldrake's Favorite," Young shines on keys as Garrett does his best Jeff Tweedy. Siiri takes on "Give It All You Can" by herself and the result is gorgeous alt-country crooning set to the backdrop of twangy guitars; just about the best of this genre that New England can offer. Her vocal talent overflows on this album - she could read her shopping list and still be captivating. The centerpiece is a sing-along anthem "Regardless of the Cost" that will likely gain a substantial play count on your iTunes. Of the Black and the Blue is cloudy gray like the November sky and warm and steamy like a cup of hot cocoa. Sit with it a little while and it should soon reveal that it deserves to be more than just one of Maine's little secrets . -Julie Reposa - Northeast Performer

"South by Northeast (Of the Black & the Blue)"

In traveling in the Northeast, especially as north as Maine, in saloon conversations of music and songwriters, natives have noted to me that I should find the songs of Garrett Soucy. Those few who had seen him with the band Tree by Leaf swore that the experience would haunt well past the ride home. His name is jotted more than once in my journals so it seems appropriate that the third CD by Tree by Leaf, of the black & the blue, should cross my path.

It is a shame that friends should have mentioned Garrett Soucy's name, it is probably Siiri Soucy's voice that will linger on longest after the disc stops playing as her brilliant and, yes, haunting voice is the vehicle that drives the evolving harmonies on this fine disc. Think, maybe, Rickie Lee Jones meets Lucinda Williams. Maybe not.

The basis of this disc is the lyrical writing of Garrett. He writes complex voice dramas from different angles with an uncanny depth and sophistication. He will enlighten simple scenes of human feelings giving a glimpse of the feelings involved, like a Michael Stipe when he wrote songs, and then jump right into feelings of oppression, alcoholism, and fear with a near-southern bus station tragedy of Jim White. This can be seen in "Regardless of the Cost" - "I'm a ghost in the shell. I'm a party girl. I'm afraid of being lost. And I'm ready now to evolve somehow . . . regardless of the cost." There is a lot to be found here and it is worth the time to go to the site and download the lyrics in order to catch the full vehicle of Soucy's writing. Here's another bite from "On a Cold Norwegian Tile": "I hope this won't become a habit - this speaking to me in code. Just come right out and say it. You're drunk and the bar is closed. And that's what this is all about - to sulk beneath expression. Well, hang-up the phone and try again. And I'll try again to listen."

With this strong and interesting lyrical base, I must say that this might not be the best part of this presentation. The way that the lyrics are presented musically is affective and constantly keeps the album moving. The base is the Soucy's vocals and Garret's acoustic rhythm guitar, but this is far expanded by the vocals and keyboard work of Clifford Young. This trio is Tree by Leaf, though here they are perfectly and expertly augmented by Ezra Rugg, who also produced the album, on bass and drums and the tasteful electric guitar of Nick Cody. This is a powerful presentation in the acoustic format that borders on Pop perfection (see "Rupert Sheldrake's Favorite"), risking to become bare and even raw and then coming back to bring complexity to of production to the front with a harmonic splash like Eddie From Ohio.

This songwriter and band were highly recommended to me and those advisors were correct, I was pleased find interesting music and will probably seek out their first two albums and try to catch them on the festival circuit next year, though I bet their best venue is dark quiet bar on a Maine winter's night.
- Folk Wax

"Intertwining of Beauty and Melancholy (Of the Black & the Blue)"

In mid-coast Maine, there is an intertwining of beauty and melancholy strong enough to stun any who travel through its tiny towns in the dead of winter. In places like Belfast, emptied of the summertime traveling public, there is a feeling of being pushed by the forest up against the enormity of the Atlantic Ocean. It is this emotional landscape that emerges from the words and music of Belfast, Maine’s native sons, Tree By Leaf. On the opening cut of their new CD—“of the black & the blue”—Siiri Soucy sings:

Everything that starts someday comes to screeching halts.
The slight of hand; the screen door slam;
a polygraph in the promised land.
You left me no choice but this— extended wrist . . . the judas kiss.
All things bright and glorious.
Join the melancholy chorus.

Siiri Soucy’s is a voice that rings as clear and bright as a deep winter’s morning, offset perfectly by the scruffy vocals of Garrett Soucy and the smooth Rhodes of Clifford Young. Fans of the Cowboy Junkies, the Jayhawks and Wilco would not be disappointed with this disc’s sounds. And while their music fits in nicely with those bands, Tree By Leaf shows an originality in the restraint of its arrangements and in its unpredictable song structures. These songs are strong, introspective, and could take on many stylistic shapes—from rock to country, and folk to indie—and it is to the band’s credit that they have forged a record that is haunting, spare, and cohesive.
- The Wire

"in a Brechtian Sense....(Of the Black & the Blue)"

My brush with our reality-television culture came earlier this year, judging a songwriting competition for NEMO (a SXSW wannabe you may or may not have noticed happening in October), which owns the Boston Music Awards, one of which Ray LaMontagne won despite the fact that he’s played roughly five gigs in Boston in his life. Beforehand, in the crowded Starbucks where the songwriting competition was being held, I mostly chatted with the competitors about how it was kind of like American Idol and how we were all basically embarrassed to be involved, but the Phoenix was a sponsor and the winner would take home a Les Paul guitar and move on to compete further in Boston for a chance to go to Hawaii. Who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii on someone else’s dime?

The thing started, and Jason Spooner, Emilia Dahlin, Rachel Griffin, and Pete Kilpatrick proceeded to one-up each other with a series of pretty damn impressive performances considering they had three "judges" sitting in front of them (a colleague of mine from WFNX and a NEMO rep were the other two) and they were playing in friggin’ Starbucks (which was fine, actually, but still). Then Garrett Soucy came on the stage. What did he do differently? It’s hard to say. Armed like three of the others with just an acoustic guitar, he didn’t play like a singer-songwriter. He kind of jabbed at it like an indie rocker, imagining a drummer and bassist to fill in the pauses and quietudes. He didn’t mind letting it hang in the air. And his songs had choruses, but they were progressive, and their narratives covered serious ground (and time — he was relating a relationship first to Roman times, then the Middle Ages, then the Renaissance, etc., I’m pretty sure).

Soucy might never be the folk-circuit star that Jason Spooner could eventually be, nor the pop star Kilpatrick could be with his charming-the-pants-off-all-women charisma. He won’t be the next Diana Krall, which is a real possibility for cutey-pie Griffin, nor an independent self-made star of the college circuit, as is likely for Dahlin. He’s a special talent, though. Sufjan Stevens special; Elliot Smith special. And if half of you never heard of Stevens, and only heard of Smith because he killed himself, that’ll tell you something about being a special talent. It doesn’t always translate into worldwide acclaim. Like many who seem to live inside their work, Soucy’s sure not much for self-promotion. He defines "aw shucks." Maybe that’s why it’s December, and I’m just getting around to reviewing the latest release by his band, Tree by Leaf, which came out in May. I’m not sure what other explanation there could be. Of the Black and Blue is spectacular, the type of album that demands that you spend time with it and nothing else. The type of album that is all-consuming in and of itself — not background music, not what you put on at a party, not something you would hear on the radio, because one song just wouldn’t be enough, and they wouldn’t pick the right one anyway.

For his annual GFAC compilation, Charlie Gaylord picked Tree by Leaf’s "Never Seems to Leave," which sure has a certain David Lynchian shuffle to it — one of those songs that’s fast despite the fact that it’s played slowly (or maybe it’s the other way around). Plus, it opens almost perfectly for a Maine compilation: "Trailer park, you’re aglow / You’re a dusted nineteen-sixty-four volume." Yes, it’s that weird mix of backwoods and frontline intellectualism that Maine seems to revel in. It’s hard to beat, too, Garret’s interplay with wife Sirii, who comes in for the next verse and an ensuing chorus where she sings what’s picked out on the bass so nicely you almost don’t notice, then breathes out the barest backing to Garret’s second verse. Man, it’s good on the headphones. Every once in a while, their voices don’t quite hold up, but it totally works in a Brechtian sense of making you notice the construction of the music itself — this is the way you do this sort of thing, whether you’ve got classically trained voices doing or not it is really irrelevant.

But that’s maybe the fourth best song on the disc. "Rupert Sheldrake’s Favorite Girl" got 15, maybe 20 listens. I love this song in a big way, with Garret’s vocals doubled throughout — really two tracks, not just a chorus pedal or an echo, and they’re just the slightest bit off, both in good ways, with the right channel just the slightest behind, adding an urgency and pushing everything forward. There’s a great guitar break after the first verse, followed by a stellar chorus: "Wait a minute / Hold the phone / I still gotta walk this memory home / I’m in love with Rupert Sheldrake’s favorite girl." Who’s Sheldrake? God, I hope it’s nobody. Right after the chorus, a really deep organ comes in, sounding like loud stadium applause, very country-rock, as though the Jayhawks decided that instead of rosy-cheeked harmonies they wanted to go the ironic route: "‘That’s funny,’ I said ‘because it’s not about you’ - The Pheonix

"the most colorful palette (Of the Black & the Blue)"

Sonically, this is the most colorful palette they have ever worked with and is easily as polished and professional as anything out there nationally. Great harmonies (all three contribute vocals), stellar playing (Garrett Soucy's guitar work, Young's keyboards, as well as contributions from Ezra Rugg on upright and electric bass, drums and backing vocals, and Nick Cody on electric guitar) and topnotch songwriting combine to make "Of the Black & the Blue" a total delight and a wonderful example of Maine-made music at it's best!" - Morning Sentinel

"Tree by Leaf see God (and have a few words with him) (There is a Vine)"

With 2005’s Of the Black and Blue, Tree by Leaf went from an interesting folk trio living somewhere Downeast to one of the most respected groups of talent in New England, with a following that began to span continents. The husband-and-wife vocals of Garrett and Siiri Soucy created an ethereal dreamland that alternatingly wrapped you in a warm embrace and forced you frigidly into a cold and driving rain, leaving the listener emotionally drained, but, like a drunk, willing to risk the hangover to go back for more.

Part of that came from a grander ambition, a willingness to go beyond the folked-up strummings of Letters to Rome into indie rock and alt-country without ever abandoning the thrill of melody. Now, on There is a Vine, released next weekend with shows in Rockland and Portland, the band have returned to the religious introspection of Rome while edging even farther from their comfort zone with an aggression you haven’t heard before from Tree by Leaf. It may not deliver as many warm fuzzies as Black and Blue, but it’s more challenging and thought-provoking, and it retains all of that album’s literacy and wit.

Garrett writes all but one of the new songs, and it’s safe to say he’s one of the best lyricists working today. He creates couplets you’re shocked you’ve never heard before (“It’s better to forget than to live with regret”) while dropping the sublime almost effortlessly (“Now he wishes her well, may she live long and prosper/And his is a glow, now, like Madonna’s penumbra”). Couple that with his heart-felt delivery, enough to get you worried for the veins popping out of his neck, and it’s nearly impossible not to be sucked into his tales of existential deliberation.

Nearly every song here deals with humanity’s relationship to God. Right from the album’s outset, the rollicking piano and raucous drums of “Over and Under,” Garrett wonders, “what is delusion?/What is devotion?” And these are questions to which he won’t offer easy answers, just interesting ways to say, “let’s talk about it,” like, “On the end of my cigarette, I’m gonna build a fire/And then we can burn this language down through the telephone wires.”

One thing they know for sure about God? He’s better than George Bush and those who would claim God for their side, and so “His Banner Over Us Is Love” is one of the better protest songs you’ll hear this year. Over a manically strummed acoustic guitar, Garrett declares himself no patriot because he knows “a king whose flag is true, and his spectrum holds no red or blue.”

This isn’t to say, however, that Tree by Leaf have abandoned the love song. “Come on, Babe” delivers again on the promise held out by the sensational “Rupert Sheldrake’s Girl” from last year. With its piano and roadhouse drums, some harmonica and simple bass, it feels, as with much of the album, like a song built for an out-of-the-way bar where a few couples dance with beers behind each other’s back, and the bartender isn’t disappointed if only 15 people walk through the door all night because he knows every one of them by name and hopes he doesn’t have to drive them all home at the end of the night.

“Come on babe and call my bluff,” Garrett sings, just as desperate as he needs to be, “I’m ready to come home/Punch out the numbers and dial me up/I’m waiting by the phone/This is not the Enlightenment babe, this is resting just above/This is not the Romance babe/this is the renaissance of our love.” Okay, so the whole artistic-eras thing looks a little cheesy in print. Trust me, it sounds pretty damn great. And I think you’ll be won over later by the Sampson reference, too.

This song also features an interesting mix, with the acoustic guitar strum way to the bottom behind a piano break from Cliff Young, the trio’s third leg and rock-solid throughout. The guitar is just a little ahead of the beat, though, quickening the heart for the otherwise restrained piano. It’s good work from Bruce Boege, of Northport’s Limin Studios, but there are other places, particularly on “Over and Under,” where the instruments are muddy. Of all the good choices he makes, keeping Garrett and Siiri well to the fore is generally among them.

Siiri, who wrote a few of the songs last album, does get room to shine here. Her first bit is the slow and sedate “Chicago at Night” (written by yet another Soucy, Erica, Garrett’s sister, who plays solo and with Jet Black Dress), where she seduces like a siren over slide guitar and well-placed snare hits. Later, she delivers her most aggressive take yet, on “Little Lost and Lonely” moving from Norah Jones to something close to Mariah Carey by the song’s crescendoing finish.

For denouement, Siiri dials it back, paired with a harmonica, to demure, “it’s only me/Little lost and lonely.”

Sorry, but that’s not going to work anymore. Tree by Leaf are a standout talent and they very much carried expectations into this album. That they delivered without playing it safe should make ever - The Pheonix


Works of Mercy - 2001
Postcards from Rome - 2003
Of the Black & the Blue- 2005
There is a Vine - 2006



Tree by Leaf is the unique synergy and musicianship of Garrett Soucy, whose songwriting taps at the pulse of the soul of human experience, but never dips into journal-entry pathos,Cliff Young, whose keyboards slide from roaring command to a mere hum of electricity, and Siiri Soucy, whose voice could draw a heart right out of its body. Eric Sanders adds the primal rhythm to the new TBL sound.

Influences as divergent as a childhood steeped in church music, hip hop, rap, and the classical education that Cliff Young and Siiri Soucy brought to the band, turned Garrett's ear for melody and undeniable writing talent into something extraordinary.