SchoolTree is actually a very cool progressive pop band lead by Lainey SchoolTree out of Boston. Still in her twenties, she actually did this release for the RPM ( Record Production Month) which is a contest of sorts, where you have to make a record in 28 days or less. It’s a challenge that thousands of musicians takes each year. I only mention this to allow the people who listen to this CD to be even more impressed that SchoolTree did this in such a short time. You’d be a fool to think the limited time took away from the quality. It’s simply amazing she produced this kind of stuff in a month’s time, lock stock and barrel. Lainey wrote, arranged, produced, recorded, performed and sequenced every single bit of ‘My Metal Mother’. Later, she put together a band to perform live. Readers would be smart to download the free live track ‘Everyman’ .
It shows the great stage ability of both the band and Lainey, plus the track is not on the CD.
To describe the sound of SchoolTree you’d be close if you combined the techno pop sounds of Buggles, the wonderful voice, theatrical and intimate talents of Kate Bush, the cool hooks of early Ambrosia (when they were still progressive) , the hauntingly in depth atmosphere of Happy Rhodes, the spiffy harmony and pop ditties of Shakespeare’s Sister, and the soulful master of play on words, solid core song writing skills of Jane Siberry. Got that?
This is a short recording of eight songs (35:27 minutes) but every second is quality listening. Some of it simply fantastic! All of it excellent! I was taken away by “Let You In” (Track 4) with it’s creeping spine tingling clever lyrics and brilliant compositional framing. For this music lover, the whole CD is a wonderful discovery of delicate but strong, simple mixed with complex, polished and ready to devour songs, in the all too rare progressive pop genre in the last decade.
Even after the first listen, the last song had me shedding some tears. It’s not often an artist can complete a tune that brings an emotion out in me like that. Check out “Disappearing ( track 6) for reference of the “wise soul” talents. It’s yet another brilliant set of lyrics and musical mingling that simply rings the bell of the tallest steeple. “The Orange Grove ( Track 7) reminds me of Happy Rhodes with it’s womb-like atmosphere and eerie warmth.
Then there is the masterpiece title cut “My Metal Mother ( track 8 ) that ranks up there with the best of the more epic Buggles/Seventh Wave progressive electronic pop. It’s incredible with it’s theme, song structure, beautiful melodies, and lyrics. The subject is the lab studies done on rhesus monkeys where they substituted the real mother with a wire and cloth mother to see the results on the babies. It’s going to be a classic in this genre. And even after four listens, it still makes me cry. Maybe it’s the animal love in me and how close I have gotten to them in the last twenty years, but I dare say no one could come away with a dry eye from this absolute diamond of a song.
SchoolTree is doing yet another CD for the RPM of 2012 and is said to be a bit different than this one, but I feel safe that the song writing will be great, as Lainey is a perfectionist with her recordings. TOTALLY RECOMMENDED!!! I wait for more music from this progressive pop goddess.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on February 27th, 2012