Song: The Shapists, Trees and Flowers (March 2014)

cover art downloads trees and flowersIt’s a strange old business sidling up nervously and gingerly to a new interpretation of a song you’ve loved intensely for nearly 30 years.

Even more so being seduced all over again by a tune so familiar by repetition that all newness has long since flown, though the enduring enjoyment remains.

So it was with great trepidation I prepared myself to listen to a new version of the Jill Bryson-written track, Trees and Flowers, which was the first Strawberry Switchblade single in 1983, and is now the seventh track so far made available on the Bandcamp page of Jill’s new band, The Shapists.

And just in time for spring.

A song about the agoraphobia that afflicted Jill in her early years, it was a gentle, melodic, harmonic start to Strawberry Switchblade’s career on vinyl, before the more staccato electronic, percussive production of their debut album in 1985.

Kicked off by a strange, alien, sci fi vibrating tone that perhaps speaks to the song’s origins of fear, what’s immediately surprising about the new interpretation is how it instantly becomes a Shapists song rather than a Strawberry Switchblade one. Sans Jill’s SS bandmate, Rose McDowall’s more insistent vocal, and wrapped in the warm, comforting cardigan of the Shapists’ guitar-laced meanderings, there’s no doubt about which version belongs in which camp.

Contrasting with the golden glow of the pastoral aural backdrop, Jill’s breathy lead vocal (augmented by daughter Jessie’s spot-on harmonies) is almost frosty – contributing to the feeling of alienation from one’s environment – yet still sweet enough to be inviting and enveloping. Like the scent of honeysuckle, it’s an intoxicating, strange, haunting and evocative combination.

Trees and Flowers is now available for download at Bandcamp.

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