REVIEW: As Árvores Estão Secas e Não Têm Folhas by Urze de Lume

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The trees have grown dry and bare, as have I.

Portuguese band Urze de Lume’s As Árvores Estão Secas e Não Têm Folhas is a guitar-centric dark folk album chronicling the autumn of one’s life, dripping with nostalgia, longing, loneliness. Traditional instruments like the rebec, a type of fiddle, as well as several different woodwinds, add a somber and reaching timbre when combined with the masterful guitar work and the fantastic use of field recordings.

I’m completely blown away by the work Urze de Lume has put into this record, and even as we head into spring the weather is still perfect for listening to this record up here in the Pacific Northwest, as things continue to be dim and rainy, stuck in perpetual twilight. Every once in a while you come across a record that’s so well-crafted, with musicians who have honed their craft so well it’s inspiring. As Árvores Estão Secas e Não Têm Folhas is one of those records for me this year, though it’s definitely not 2018’s feel-good record.

I don’t want to give the impression that this album is melodramatic. It isn’t. The melancholy that paints this record is the sort that comes with age, with maturity. And just as the autumns of one’s life come with ups and downs, As Árvores Estão Secas e Não Têm Folhas has its own emotional ups and downs throughout. The majority of the pieces on this record are slow and longing, but there are dance tunes and more upbeat works as well. There’s an overarching motive to the work, but the entire song cycle on the album is anything but one-note.

If you’ve just returned home after having been gone for years, and you’ve found things are so much quieter, so much more isolated, and your childhood home is smaller and dustier, more full of grime than you remembered, this album is for you.

If you’ve moved to a new city and find yourself alone and wondering where the hell to go from here, this album is for you.

If you’ve reached the middle of your life, and you’ve found most of your friendships have faded, and you just can’t seem to connect with people anymore, this album is for you.

If you’ve reached old age, your spouse has died, and you find yourself sitting in a house that’s dimmer and quieter than ever, the days growing colder and shorter, and in the shadowed corners of your vision you swear you can see a shrouded figure waiting, this album is for you.

If you want nostalgic, bittersweet folk music to listen to on cold Fall days, this album is for you.

5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

As Árvores Estão Secas e Não Têm Folhas is available digitally and as a CD digipack through Equilibrium Music.

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