Treetop Flyers – Palomino
Treetop Flyers seem like they should be having a great time. Named after a Stephen Stills song, channelling 70s AM rock, and with a new album mixed by Jonathan Wilson, there’s a sense in which everything is endless sunshine and tie-dyed shirts in the land of lead singer Reid Morrison and fellow band members. But there’s a darker undercurrent to Palomino. Personal circumstances have intervened between this their sophomore release and their debut album some three years previously. ‘Lady Luck’ tells the story of someone who’s been having a run of the bad sort for some time now. “At the helm, a captain in mourning, Going down with broken dreams”. And on the moving ‘St Andrews Cross’, we’re left in no doubt as to at least part of the sadness. “As I look at my mother, she’s crying and sad, And I look at my brother who’s missing his dad”. This is hardly the first album to register feelings of grief and loss, but it’s no less affecting for that. What it all means is that if Treetop Flyers bear more than a passing resemblance to Fleet Foxes, then it’s from the Helplessness Blues side of the family rather than from the Mykonos clan. But Palomino is no Debbie Downer of a record. It fairly shoots out of the starting gates with a wonderful burst of synths on ‘You, Darling You’. It proceeds to gallop along with the magnificent ‘Sleepless Nights’. And throughout there are bursts of sprightly melodies. The duelling keyboards and guitars on ‘Dance Through The Night’ being a particular highlight. It’s easy to pigeonhole Treetop Flyers as a summery-sounding band who wear their classic-era Californian influences proudly upon their sleeve. And that’s all part of their charm. But on Palomino there’s more to them than this easy stereotype would suggest. Life is full of unexpected challenges. And it appears as if Treetop Flyers have recently had to face up to quite a few. For their sake, let’s hope the corner has now been turned. For our part, let’s be thankful for the really great album that has emerged from such seemingly difficult times.