Music We Love: "Whatever Keeps You in the Air" by Family Tree

With “Whatever Keeps You in the Air,” Family Tree shows us that you can take a group trained in the recognized UNT jazz program and mix in pop elements to get a unique sound that remains technically driven and grounded. In three tracks, the six piece group entrances the listener with constantly evolving yet approachable instrumentation for any and all listeners, and a showcase for Isabel Crespo’s glittering soprano. 

“Backwards Can” draws the listener in with its actual backpedaling, in the lyrics, diction, and rhythms of the entire song. While this song doesn’t have a particular overarching image to the central message, the lyrics demonstrate Skyler Hill’s ability to conjure up images for even the most intriguing, simple questions: Do I matter to you? Crespo soars in this song, but really shines in the second track, “Karenin.” The breezy yet textured instrumentation complements the innocence and realized naiveté of the song, with lyrics like “I've played the part of you playing me / Into soundless sleep / Where we both thought that love / Was just swimming with our feet.” The last song, "Slow Thoughts," is perhaps the best showcase for Crespo’s voice, as she has isolated solos with varying accompaniment from one of her bandmates, quietly enriching the lyrics from Crespo, Hill, and alto saxophonist Aaron Dutton. At the end, the instrumentation ends in a flourish that is not so much grandiose as intelligent and focused. 

There is a rich imagery echoed throughout multiple tracks in the EP. With whirling yet calculated winds, light percussion, and moving strings, it’s easy on the ears yet attention-grabbing, scene-setting, and a brilliant showcase of emotion and growth. It’s a cohesive display of Family Tree in three tracks, and we hope that means that we can expect more soon. The band is having an album release show with a $5 cover. Leoncarlo opens for the group Friday, February 24 at 7:30 at the Black Box Theatre.