Young Trees was released digitally towards the end of last year, but it’s physical incarnation only hit the shops this month. It is one of many releases produced by this late 20s Oxford born singer-songwriter. When the Guardian featured him in May 2009, this is how they described him as “…a male singer-songwriter that we actually enjoy!” Hinting that, although the genre of “singer-songwriter” may have its limitations, Richard Walters has something unique to offer any willing listener.
The first track is the title track ‘Young Trees’. Beginning the track is a tranquil cello, with a decorative and twinkly glockenspiel bringing an immediate dreamy feel, almost like a question that needs an answer. A familiar guitar strum joins in with a gentle bass drum on every other beat, unobtrusive to their delicate predecessors, setting the stage for Walters’ smooth voice. For the chorus the drum becomes much more prevalent, creating a catchy and clap-able beat, a technique that I’ve always considered as just a clever way for artists to encourage audience participation at gigs to make songs stick in the memory. However this time I quite like it.
Track two ‘Regretless’ switches to the piano and again it’s joined by an uplifting glockenspiel, which in this song seems to want to distract from what sounds like a song written on a deathbed. The lyrics tell the listener to leave their regrets behind and let go, whilst the 2nd bar of each verse features an uncomfortable chord amongst a wave of gorgeous harmonies which to me represents the uncomfortable feeling of regret. This clever chord placement makes the lyrics clash with the music and creates a dilemma for the listener. Believe what he’s singing? Or believe the music? Fantastic.
‘Dandelion’ is the most catchy and uplifting track of the EP. The pizzicato cello gives the feeling of jumping and frolicking, accompanied by a beautiful story of love with the lyrics: “Fell in love and it doesn’t hurt now my back is stiff and strong. Hearts may break and our egos strain but our eyes will never roam.” This is a song that gives everyone hope that they’ll find love, even those that consider themselves to be more of a common weed than a colourful flower.
‘Infinity Street’ impressively manages to depict the un-depictable notion of infinity through Walters’ lyrics. He’s chosen phrases like – “the whole world”, “constant” and “always burn”, successfully creating images of something intangible. This is another passionate song, complete with backing vocals that create an echo effect and a gentle resonance and beautiful vocal harmonies, especially when strings join for the heartbreaking chorus.
The fifth and final track of the EP is a cover of the 1985 hit by Echo and the Bunnymen. Very different from the original as it strips away heavier instrumentation, making a raw ballad with nothing to take the focus away from Walters’ voice and simple guitar. An absolutely stunning EP.
Self released in December 2011.