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A Fine Frenzy “Pines” Is More Than a Record

Virgin Records America (2012)

A Fine Frenzy (known to friends as Allison Sudol) is nothing if not creative. So it should come as little surprise that the concept behind her new project Pines was too large to be expressed only as a 13-track recording.

While it is typical for indie singer/songwriters to be cryptic or ambiguous with their lyricism, Pines goes in a completely opposite direction, telling a compelling story in the tradition of The Giving Tree. Carrying an intentional double-meaning (“pine” the tree, and “pine” as in “to long for”), Pines is about a tree that longs for more, and what happens in her unique journey. (That’s all I’m gonna say—no spoilers here.) But the full import of the story is brought home with the album’s accompanying interactive e-book and animated short film, both titled The Story of Pines.

In an interview video found on her website, Sudol shares that the concept of Pines came forth as she was processing some very deep emotions of her own—“a really intensely transitional period in my life,” as she puts it. That emotion really comes out in all three formats. It plays sort of like a children’s story, but it carries the overall feel of a passion project.

While the record itself is understandably filled with both the forested imagery and the longing emotion that we associate with the word “pine,” the album is not a soundtrack in itself. In other words, it doesn’t accompany the story—it tells the story in its own beautiful way. You will experience something special by sitting with the music, even if you don’t watch the video or read the interactive book. If you add The Story of Pines to the experience, though, song titles like “Pinesong,” “Riversong,” “Sailing Song” and “Sadseasong” will make a lot more sense. Most of the music is reflective, even a bit ambient, in keeping with the tone of the story, although things turn slightly more upbeat toward the end of the track list with songs like “Sailingsong,” “They Can’t If You Don’t Let Them,” and “Now Is the Start.”

You can purchase both the album Pines and the e-book from iTunes; however, the short film is currently available for viewing via YouTube, so I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it below. I’m a long-time fan of A Fine Frenzy, but the only other thing I can say about this project is I wish I thought of it first. Enjoy The Story of Pines, and if you do—buy the record and book!




5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Kim Phelps found her inspiration and love for music listening to local bands play in the coffeehouses around town. She soon found her own voice as a singer-songwriter, and eventually began playing her own gigs in the coffee shops. Her personal influences include Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson and Cat Power, but as an indie musician herself, she has an affinity for any band or artist who pursues creative freedom on the outskirts of the music industry. As our Indie correspondent, Kim makes a point of highlighting up-and-coming independent acts who are creating a buzz and building an audience. When she's not blogging for us or playing in the coffee shops, Kim works as a barista herself to help pay the bills. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Featured, Indie/Alternative Music


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