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Tree Read

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It's all about roots. Tree Read's stunning debut album, "First Grade," is the sound of a prodigious songwriter discovering her voice. The album opens with "The Desert Song;" a cinematic instrumental piece recorded at the tender age of sixteen. Impressive. From there the album moves on to the title track; a song about the innocence and pain of youth. "Third grade is blood and ice-cream," she sings. The writing is poignant and playful. Tree engages the listener, but does not take herself to seriously. She may have a tear in one eye, but she is winking with the other. "Eyes Shut" is the harrowing account of a man's descent into alcoholism. The man "curses the angels above and then cries out for their love." Heavy stuff. There is a wisdom and maturity here that belie her nineteen years. Don't worry on "First Grade" the rain clouds come, but they also part. On "Makeout Bandit" the sun is out and Tree roams a party in search of her next conquest, tongue planted firmly in cheek. The album closes with the spiritual search of "Something Higher." She sings, "I've got to believe in something higher than me." At the albums cathartic emotional climax you can almost see her roots firmly in place, branches reaching out to the sky. Tree Read's music is personal but universal. This is a beautiful account of the discovery, pleasure, and scraped knees of first grade. -Matt Butcher, musician


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