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CD Review: The Escape 

click to enlarge The Whispering Tree, The Escape, 2013, Independent.
  • The Whispering Tree, The Escape, 2013, Independent.

This seven-song EP instantly transported me back to college, when I obsessed over soulful indie folk-rock bands such as Cowboy Junkies and Over the Rhine—mellow alternative rock with luminous female vocals, wistful melodies, and introspective lyrics. Beacon-based duo the Whispering Tree—classically trained vocalist/pianist Eleanor Kleiner and French guitarist Elie Brangbour—resurrect a kindred musical sensibility. They have joined up with additional players on The Escape to expand their textures, making a bit of a departure from their full-length debut, Go Call the Captain. Readily apparent is an intensity of yearning that all listeners can relate to; the title refers both to being left behind and being set free.

Simple acoustic guitar and piano introduce "Where Have You Gone?," an expression of longing for a loved one who has vanished. The motif continues both musically and lyrically in "Remember Waiting" before breaking into faster-paced folk jam. The upbeat cover of "Over the Rainbow," a song famous for its escapist theme, has an unexpected gypsy jazz feel. "I wanna run from this world" is the repeated opening lyric of "No Love," a tune that's at first sullen, then driving, with a hunger to return to home (or innocence, perhaps). Kleiner's vocals billow and soar in the final eloquent ballads "Better Off" and "Pink House," as the subjects fly away into a world of possibilities. Thewhisperingtree.com.

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