With the single, The Gift, still ringing entrancingly in ears we thought we should catch up with the album it comes from and lures attention to. Sustain The Illusion is the second album from Sweet Gum Tree, the solo project of French singer songwriter/musician Arno Sojo and a release which simply captivates from start to finish with melodic beauty and emotively provocative exploration.
After the collaborative creation of its acclaimed predecessor three years ago, The Snakes You Charm & The Wolves You Tame, a release featuring among a few Isobel Campbell of Belle & Sebastian, Earl Harvin from the Tindersticks, and The Church’s Marty Willson-Piper, Sojo has created and recorded Sustain The Illusion pretty much on his own with producer David Odlum and musicians Romy and Lise Douylliez adding the only additional contributions. The result is a release which manages to feel even more intimate than its heart bred predecessor while embracing a richer texture and array of sound and enterprise.
Sustain The Illusion opens with the atmospheric Breaking The Bond, electronic beats leading in the inviting melodic coaxing of a lone guitar as colder winds whistle around them. Sojo’s tones soon join the blossoming reflection, the emotion of his voice and words stirring greater intensity in the suggestive sounds. It is energy though which sublimely ebbs and flows as the instinctive beauty of his music seduces the senses, at times with melancholic elegance.
The following Twinkle has a livelier gait, its electronic shimmer and melodic rock guitar stroll as transfixing as the rhythmic dance and vocal adventure within them. As the track gently explodes around ears and imagination certain essences remind of bands such as Slug Comparison and Sigur Rós before Someday hugs thoughts with its confidential emotions and sonic tension. As the song before, it is seriously mesmeric, deeply immersing the listener in its raw heart and emotional drama further expressed through the impressing tones of Sojo.
The infectious swing of Rollercoaster firmly entices next, its boisterous energies and enterprise pure magnetism infesting body and spirit. It is pop infused rock at its best and quite bewitching as too is successor Fairweather Faith, a folk spiced croon with the most delicious melody and a compelling XTC like air. It is an exquisitely layered seduction graced by worldly spices which absorbs attention and ardour like a sponge.
An earthy bass opens up Stars Align, its flirtatious nature matched in vocal and melody as the song evolves into a Nine Inch Nails meets The The like treat. Its eventful minimalistic air and Sojo’s vocal prowess alone stokes pure pleasure which angelic harmonies and an array of sounds and imaginative twists simply accentuates in the album’s best track.
The equally outstanding Guilt Trip similarly has something of Matt Johnson’s band to it, a touch of The Pineapple Thief too as its mix of eighties synth pop and post punk nurtured rock captivates with increasing dexterity. It is another beacon of songwriting and craft within the album taken to a greater plateau by Sojo’s passion and energy.
As the calmer but darker emotional waters of Clean Slate and Burn Your Icons, a track merging Cure-esque rhythms and shadows with jazzier progressive rock adventure, surround ears on the way to seducing the psyche Sustain The Illusion only strengthens its hold, squeezing tighter with recent single The Gift. The track caresses the senses with its golden melodic romance, its heart similarly graceful and reassuring to subdue the shadows which skirt but never threaten its hope fuelled beauty. It is fair to say that the song has been a powerful draw for a great many into Sustain The Illusion and for newcomers into the creative realm of Sweet Gum Tree, and even after a flood of plays seduces as powerfully as ever.
The album closes with the reassuring lullaby of Keeper, a safety clad hug which encapsulates everything masterfully charismatic and fascinating about not only the album but Sojo’s songwriting and talent. So we suggest you do yourself a big favour and check out Sustain The Illusion and Sweet Gum Tree now!
Sustain The Illusion is out now @ https://sweetgumtree.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 03/10/2017
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