I'll start with the bad news: Theo and the Trees have only released one EP to Spotify (if you prefer downloads, the EP is also available on Amazon), so you can only listen to seven of their songs.
The good news: you will love rocking out to the music and contemplating Theo's lyrics, which range from witty despair to gut-punching, universally-relatable insights, to adorable metaphors that are sure to make you smile. I had so much listening to the EP -- several times, on repeat -- that I asked Theo if I could write a bit about them here, because the world must know.
Disclosure: I know Theo personally -- we met when he was a visiting scholar at Stanford. That's how I happened upon his EP in the first place. I found through Facebook that one of my friends, Marina Evans, was opening for LeAnn Rimes -- what a huge accomplishment!
Then I found out Marina was on Spotify -- so convenient! So, I asked in a Facebook post, who else do I know who's on Spotify?
Theo has the rare quality of being both humble AND a musician. It was only reluctantly that he told me his music was online... and I haven't stopped listening since.
(Well, that's not true. I've been on a bit of a Broadway kick recently, after seeing Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away in New York the other week. But... basically nonstop.)
I even went running -- yes, running -- as an excuse to listen to the EP again.
PROOF. Image: @TheHappyTalent on Instagram.
Musically, Theo and the Trees feel and sound sort of similar to artists like Elliott Smith, Eels and Absynthe Minded. Lyrically, I've now heard each of the songs a dozen times, but they still get me. For example, in Cello, Theo sings,
Which I loved, because it was so adorable... but still so good. Then, in verse three, he sings:
Less cute... more TOTALLY relatable. I instantly thought about so many times in my life: the time I scratched the paint on my brand new car while loading my bike in the trunk. The first crack in my own guitar -- he's right. That one hurts the most....
But wasn't quite worth repairing.
Emma, a haunting love song drenched with powerful imagery, begins with about four minutes of verse and chorus -- then brings down the house with an unforgettable outro:
Then there was Two, a two-minute song that was almost like a musical version of a Billy Collins poem I love, "Vade Mecum."
It's just.... so good.
So, another really cool thing about the band? Just like The Happy Talent, which is devoted to playfulness, silliness, and leisure skill development, Theo and the Trees is literally all about having fun.
"Having fun together is more important than anything else -- even more important than being good musicians," Theo told me. "Like, even if there's no musical point of adding someone new to the band, if we meet someone we like and they love playing an instrument, we invite them to join the band."
Image: Theo and the Trees on Facebook.
I'm sure I suffer from at least a little motivated reasoning, here, since I believe playfulness is a key to both creativity and genius... but that is probably why I love this band so much. It's not a guy who hired some musicians to come in and record on a certain day -- it's a group of friends having an amazing time, and you can feel it in even the most tragic love song.
It's only seven songs -- for now. But the band has been gigging like crazy and working on new material... So hopefully they'll have something new out any day now?
Theo, if you're reading this... close the tab, and get back to work on your music. Don't you George R. R. Martin me.
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