Scattered Trees “Sympathy”: a melodic labor of love

[By Franceasca Seiden]

Sympathy is the 3rd album from the Chicago based band Scattered Trees, a melodic labor of love dealing with the intricacies of life, loss and the grief that follows.  

Sympathy is a cathartic two-year grieving experience after lead singer/guitarist Nate Eiesland’s father passed. For the most part the lyrics are heavy, the music melancholy, excluding a couple upbeat songs mid-album to break up the overall tone. Their sound could be compared to that of a younger sibling of more popular indie bands like Wilco, Band of Horses and The Boxer Rebellion.  Formed in 2003 with two previously released records before signing with EMI, the septuplet separated for two years in 2007-2009 while Nate penned Sympathy. As they regrouped they experimented with a variety of sounds for this LP, a brave feat as up and comers, and for the most part they made it work.

Sympathy begins with the sentimental ballad, Bury the Floors, and is preceded by A Conversation About Death on New Years Eve, a haunting story of sorrow. Love and Leave is a little bit more hopeful, reminiscent of The Beatles circa Abbey Road and is a nice midway mark in the album. Four Days Straight, is by far the most upbeat and vast in musical arrangement (queue handclapping, you might even want to dance) the chorus “Oh no we both got broken hearts/ Oh no yours just took you away/ Oh no mine is keeping me here/ Who knows how long I can stay?”

A ukulele carries us to a folky poppy beat and we arrive to the title track of this album, Sympathy, a quest to be set free from the range of emotion that is relatable.  Five minutes and Where You Came From and I Swear To God have undertones of philosophical ideal of afterlife.  And we close with On Your Side; we come full circle to the humanistic heart of the album, relating to love, romantic or other. A soulful shout out to anyone who experiences great change in life and must accept the difference in reality.

Throughout the years playing the Chicago club circuit Scattered Trees members have lived all over, had a two-year hiatus while Nate grieved and wrote what is Sympathy.  Their lineup remains pretty much untouched with five key players Nate Eiesland (lead vocals, guitar) Ryne Estwing (bass, vocals) Alissa Eiesland (vocals, keys) Baron Harper (drums) and Jason Harper (keys, guitar, vocals).  We are sure to hear much more from Scattered Trees and their developing sound.