Back in the spring of 2006, when this blog was just finding its footing as a flyover mp3 site on Blogger, the blossoming psych-folk boom was a large inspiration. In particular the works that huddled together under the Jewelled Antler Collective felt like they needed amplification. A homespun collection of works that eked out in small press formatis (CD-Rs and the problematic yet enticing 3” CD) in the years prior to the site’s creation, the label was a hub of folk scuffed by field recordings and softened by tape hiss. At the center of that hub was Glenn Donaldson, who’d recorded as The Blithe Sons, Thuja, Giant Skyflower Band, Birdtree, Ivytree and, at the time was gaining ground with Skygreen Leopards. Donaldon’s, plaintive falsetto and filmstrip grained folk embraced the home/field recorded aesthetics that summed up much of the best psych-folk of that particular era and he helped dozens of likeminded artists find a home.
Seems that composer and label head Sean McCann would agree with the impact Donaldson had around the time and he reached out to publish a compilation of some of Ivytree’s best moments. What he wound up with instead, as Glenn dug through his archives, was a collection of unreleased Ivytree songs that present a whole new slew of material that’s just as captivating as the existing works (which are largely relegated to an EP, album and one side of a split 12” with Chris Smith). Ivytree has always stood as the coinflip to The Birdtree – both visions of Glenn’s solo folk captured in harmony with nature and seeping through the speakers as fragile and warm as a sunbeam and alternately cool and humid as deep forest moss.
The songs here pick up the tradition of earlier works, conjuring bittersweet moments of solitude, echoing around headphones and speakers like cave walls and tree canopies. That these sat in storage seems an injustice that’s just now being righted. After all these years, the Ivytree songs still have he same ability to transport the listener to open fields with soft breezes and I’m grateful to Recital for bringing this out to the world. If you’re unfamiliar with the original works do yourself a favor, start here and then tumble down through Ivytree and Birdtree’s early records for some of folk’s most unheralded gems.
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