I’ve been obsessed with A Fine Frenzy’s newest album PINES since it released in October. Accompanying the album is an interactive digital book singer/songwriter Alison Sudol wrote, titled The Story of Pines. The entire project is absolutely stunning. I’m a sucker for music that meets narrative; what can I say? I remember my friend Lily recommending a few songs from One Cell in the Sea to me, but I wasn’t a huge fan of A Fine Frenzy until this album. I emotionally connected to PINES immediately after the first listen, and I’ve come back to it a number of times over the past few months. For me, it’s a definitively winter album. It’s a little softer, a little sadder, a little more painful.
I bought the album the week it dropped, but just stumbled upon a track-by-track commentary on Spotify with Alison Sudol, in which she takes listeners through the sensory progression she imagined and where she was emotionally in writing PINES. It’s all very lovely and worth your time. If things like Spotify playlists interest you, I made one with the commentary and album so you don’t even have to go searching for it, which you can access here. I transcribed a short clip from the commentary for you all because I thought it was all around lovely, even on its own, apart from the song.
“Dance of The Gray Whales–I started writing this piece–it’s the first instrumental piece I’ve ever written, and I started writing it years ago when I was on tour during One Cell in the Sea, actually. And I used to play it for myself and for friends who were upset or who needed soothing, or I’ve played it for friends and they’ve just fallen asleep to it. And it’s just–there’s a moment that happens after a stormy or turbulent event in your life where there’s a quiet, and–a really deep quiet. And there’s a bit of pain left over, but not really pain, but the memory of the pain. And yet there’s this kind of peaceful sort of gray cloud that comes over you, which is healing and–not gray, not dark gray, not a charcoal, not a storm, but a softness.
And I love whales, I think there’s something so wise and ancient about them and I just imagined being in the sea and having been in a shipwreck and gotten in a fight with ghost ships and then being rescued by whales. I mean, how much lovelier could that get, even though that may not carry the same weight because you’d be a bit tired. But it’d still be pretty nice.”
From PINES (Spotify Track by Track) by A Fine Frenzy