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Ed Woltil - One in My Tree

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 26 / 11 / 2020

Ed Woltil - One in My Tree
Label: Sunshine Drenchy Records
Format: CD


Second solo album from former Ditchflower Ed Woltil has been a long time coming but is well worth the wait

It has been six years since former Ditchflower Ed Woltil released his solo album, ‘Paper Boats’, which still sounds as fresh as the day he recorded it. A year later in 2015 Woltil finally released the album he’d been working on with Steve Robinson, ‘Cycles’. Two albums of classy, intelligent pop music, chock full of hooks and insightful lyrics in such a short space of time gave fans of catchy pop which conjured up visions of all the pop greats from the Beatles on hope that we’d hear a lot more of Woltil’s music soon. We didn’t… But it’s been worth the wait and with ‘One in My Tree’ Woltil once again proves that he’s up there with the classic bands and songwriters that no doubt inspired him to make music in the first place. Self-produced with assistance from Steve Connelly and Jeremy Douglass, this album has class oozing out from every groove (or it would do if it wasn’t one of those shiny silver discs or a stream). We’ve come to expect first-rate musicianship from Woltil who plays the majority of instruments on ‘One in My Tree’ (Douglass provides keyboards, bass and percussion and strings, Dave Hamar plays drums and the ever brilliant Connelly adds lead guitar and pedal steel) and his production skills have already been proved but still whenever an album arrives which Woltil is involved in we are blown away again by the sheer class of the whole project. Woltil writes songs which can only be described as classic intelligent pop. While sounding totally of the moment Woltil’s music instantly sends the listener on a journey back to those days when we had pure, perfect pop music blasting out of the radio. It’s almost impossible not to think of Lennon/McCartney or Difford/Tilbrook, Ray Davies even when listening to Woltil. While there are traces of his fellow countrymen in his work (Nilsson always enters this writer's head when Woltil is doing his thing) it’s those artists that are at the very heart of classic British pop that the listener can more readily hear traces of. The opener ,’When We Fall in Love’, hits the spot instantly. Chiming guitars, an infectious melody, the shimmering guitar solo, the harmonies, all make this a power-pop classic. It’s the perfect introduction and grabs the listener’s attention in seconds. There’s a feeling that it can’t get any better than this then… ‘The Lie’ arrives, an edgier, funky cut displaying a little of the soul leanings that occasionally spice certain Woltil songs. If we thought we were in for a dozen power-pop classics after that opening shot ‘The Lie’ instantly dispels such thoughts. ‘If The Sun Forgets to Shine’ is instantly catchy, Woltil’s lyrics offering comfort in “these here troubled times”. The vocals are outstanding, Woltil, it appears, supplies all lead and backing vocals on the album, except for backing vocals on ‘The Lie’, and the closing backing vocals and short instrumental at the close of ‘If The Sun Forgets to Shine’ are nothing short of genius. ‘Migrator’ is something else entirely. Possibly about one of our feathered friends migrating but like many of Woltil’s lyrics the listener can adapt the meaning to suit their own situation. It’s a beautiful piece of art. A calming psych-pop tune that is so touching it’s difficult not to hit replay as the soon as the song begins to fade. ‘Crying In Your Sleep’ is another lyrically strong cut which can be interpreted to suit our own situation. Couplets such as “You were crying in your sleep/It wasn’t just nothing”, “Somewhere I lost you, and I fear it cost you” and “You drifted off and you missed your stop” emotively sung by Woltil are particularly affecting. A pretty neat guitar solo half way through the song does no harm either. It’s back to power-pop Woltil for ‘Make Me’. Complete with searing guitar work from Connelly, it’s another cracking tune and there’s a pretty cool video that Woltil has posted to go with the song. That ‘Do or Die’ opens with “The picture on the fridge that used to make me smile/I haven’t taken time to look at in a while” gives notice that here is an acoustic ballad enhanced with strings dealing with love gone wrong. And it’s heartbreaking. The complete lyrics deserve to be reproduced here but “Maybe you failed to notice/ We’ve drifted out of focus” and “If you no longer see me, who am I?”, are prime examples. But if that track brings tears to the eyes then ‘Living in Between the Lines’ will bring on the floods. It is another love lost song but with such a pretty melody and a brilliant vocal performance from Woltil. ‘Fourteen Angels’ finds Woltil reflecting on the San Bernardino shootings. Musically it’s the most experimental cut on ‘One in My Tree’, displaying a darker edginess in Woltil’s work than that shown in his power-pop offerings. It’s a haunting piece of work with chilling words - “Timing is everything/If she had just called in sick/No, you can’t go there/Just let go” - matched by a melee of sound at the close. Despite some strong competition, it’s possibly the most affecting track on the album. As with the perfect opening song Woltil completes the album with the perfect closing cut. ‘Give It Away’ finds Woltil reflecting on the passing of time, Connelly’s weeping pedal steel complimenting the sentiment of the lyrics and vibe of the song vividly. Another set of perfect pop songs from Ed Woltil then, another dozen songs that will never age and will always be there within reach for those times when we need something to pull us through and remind us just how important artists of Woltil’s caliber are to help steer us through these troubled, crazy times with this thing we call music. I hope I’m allowed to take the opportunity here to mention that Ed Woltil is far from the only talented member of the Woltil family. Ed’s daughter Evie Woltil Richner released her own album, ‘Echoes’, earlier this year. It’s on Evie’s Bandcamp page and worth a listen. While it’s far removed from her father’s music, Ed produced and played on the album and even months later the haunting sound of many of the songs have made ‘Echoes’ a favourite around here.

Track Listing:-
1 When We Fall in Love
2 The Lie
3 If the Sun Forgets to Shine
4 Migrator
5 Crying in Your Sleep
6 Make Me
7 Do or Die
8 Living in Between the Lines
9 A Matter of Time
10 Fourteen Angels
11 Carolina Wren
12 Give It Away

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Paper Boats (2014)
Stunning second solo album from Florida-based singer-songwriter and former Ditchflowers front man, which draws strong comparisons with Harry Nilsson and Jimmy Webb

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