Though it is not exceptionally unique, local artist From Birch to Yew's self-released seven track debut album, Whisper in the Trees, is a strikingly earnest collection of tunes. What it lacks in sheer originality, it makes up for with the beautiful simplicity of talented songwriting.
Standout tracks "Company of Mine" and "The Gargoyle" both feature singer and multi-instrumentalist Norika Yue's ability to effortlessly croon with minimal accompaniment. The strongest moments on the album are when tracks become fully formed ideas with percussion, piano and other guitar parts enticing the listener to attend a live show.
Yue clearly wears his influences on his sleeve. At first listen, he has obvious similarities to the Canadian Dallas Green-- something Yue has probably grown extremely tired of hearing. The quality of Yue's vocals are the driving force behind the album, though perhaps the next release will be a chance to show some more versatility. There is an endearing quality to the production on this release, with Yue vacillating between unrepentantly poppy choruses and fingerpicked campfire tunes.
Lyrically speaking, Yue is clearly hunting bigger game with intelligently designed songs that creatively navigate well-worn roads without sounding too hackneyed. Sometimes less is more and with Yue's natural gifts, hopefully we can expect a more albums of From Birch to Yew.