I brewed a pot of jasmine tea to begin with. I spooned it three teaspoonfuls of leaf into the pot of hot water, making sure it didn’t boil to avoid unnecessary bitterness. After a minute and a half of steeping I removed the leaves and went outside.
I had been looking forward to this all day. So I was rather nervous that the album I had planned to experience wouldn’t live up to my hopes. The sky above was overcast, the wind slight and cool. It was not cold enough to be bothersome, but not warm either. The weather was perfect. I poured a glass of tea into a glazed ceramic cup and turned on my iPod, starting the new Radical Face album called The Roots. It is the first in a three album series he is doing called Family Tree, revolving around said theme.
I inhale the fumes from the cup and smell the slightly fruity scent of the tea. It is just strong enough to be flavourful without becoming strong. The first song Names is faintly sung and played, revolving around the line “I am a long way from home.”
The piano grows as it moves into the second song, the guitar hums and the percussionist makes sharp tapping noises. Pound of Flesh then jumps in with some drums; a steady foot-pounding beat grows with multi-layered voices reminiscent of Bon Iver.
The next song, Family Portrait is a heart felt and lyrical song that tells the sad story of his parents and how they met and eventually died. Plodding piano notes twinkle past as his guitar rolls across chords.
After Family Portrait I finish my pot of tea and walk out from under the veranda. There is a light rain; the grass is wet yet there is no mud. Cooper continues with the steady beating heart sound into Black Eyes. Pings of rain match the sharp notes at the end of the piano.
I lay my jacket on the grass and lie down, my head upon the jacket. My glasses also go; I just want to stare up at the cloudy sky. The music builds and builds, but it stops short of the finish, the majority of the album yet left.
“All the trees stood like skeletons. Silhouettes of spilled ink.” Begins Severus and Stone. After a minute of piano, strings sidle in. Cooper’s haunting voice and the dead imagery of the lyrics somehow compliment the tender beginning. A full range of percussion joins around three minutes in. A silent verse rolls past only to bring the percussion back for the finish.
“There aint no moon tonight. It’s hard for me to see” Is the ironic beginning of the next song. It is as I look at the moon. I am completely at peace by now. The music holding me completely as the rain brushes cool against my face. People sometimes say that one can only find beauty and meaning in divine figures and ideals. But they are all mistaken, the rain and moon and earth beneath are more than enough beauty for any one person to experience. There is so much more meaning in reality than in any fantasy.
Kin begins with a roll of thunder. I look up and laugh because there is no thunder. This song is perhaps the most evocative of the lot. It’s so enmeshed in the audible spectrum. The creak of a rocking chair, the tapping of a pipe, the splitting of logs are all described as the music rises and falls with the constant instrumental theme of The Roots plays on.
Always Gold is the paramount song for me. Reminiscent of Welcome Home, Son from his previous album Ghost in tone and rhythm, it revolves around the theme of brotherhood. It’s emotional in both lyrical and musical values. It builds into a song that will make you smile like a kid again. It is also a song of contrasts and coexistence. Him and his brother are opposites but are fiercely loyal, despite the paths that their lives take.
The rolling vibrancy of Always Gold leads into the comfortable conclusion in Mountains. I sit up and breathe a sigh of contentment, relishing the moment. Dusting of the jacket and grabbing the tea implements I go inside revitalized.
Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? - Douglas Adams