Review: Timbre – Little Flowers
June 7, 2010 1 Comment
(Originally posted on AbsolutePunk.net)
Timbre Cierpke is known to many for lending her harp skills to several mewithoutYou songs, though her own creations are not as well-known. Winter Comes to Wake You was a quiet lament of haunting melancholy, but if her first album paid a tribute to the coldest of seasons, Little Flowers is the spring that follows. It’s another round of lofty lullabies, but Timbre finds a few more major chords this time around, along with a few more ways to charm our hearts.
From the opening notes of the harmonizing choir, we know we’re in for a treat. Timbre invites us to join her and her family and friends in choruses of celebration, complete with bells, toy pianos, strings, horns, accordions, and a variety of percussion that occasionally shift into moving grooves nearly as energetic as those of her aforementioned friends. Timbre is in no hurry to rush past our eager ears, but like the natural elements the album personifies, prefers to slowly unveil the beauty that lies within. Several tracks run past the six minute mark, often lingering on a verse or teasing us with a melodic interlude that waits for the sun to climb high enough before bursting forth into full glory.
The lyrics are more accessible, as the foreign languages and unpronounceable song titles of Winter are nowhere to be found here. The venerable value of Latin may be underutilized, to be sure, but the benefit of this album is that we can fully appreciate the depths of Timbre’s maturing lyricism. “The Wind May Be Beautiful” hails the wind in a quiet caution against restlessness and escape: “She takes away the pain that comes with time in one place / But pain can be beautiful, my dear / Roots that are deep do not fear winter / And spring has more joy when you’ve felt / The remnants of cold sorrows melt.” The patient advances of the “little flowers” are a metaphor for our fragile but slowly strengthening selves: “Watching the frail stems put forth their brand new leaves / I find a love for them in their honest weakness / And maybe you feel the same for me too.” You can almost see the shoots springing up from the ground as easily as you can hear the smile in her voice.
The album has one cover – and no, it’s not “Fireflies,” which Timbre developed on a warm summer evening long before that other version found the radio. “Like Spinning Plates” gives Radiohead a harpist’s touch it never expected, while the background vocals of Timbre’s sister Tetra and many other friends lend the same subtle ambiance that covers the rest of the album. Through it all Timbre’s fingers dance through the harp’s strings, exuding ethereal arpeggios and waltzing through quiet chords with an effortless grace.
It’s not a fantastical bliss – “The Lullaby of the Lonely House” is a mournful tune more reminiscent of Winter – but it’s the quiet, budding joy that gives this album its significance. “I can’t help wondering if you know what it means to be still.” Maybe you don’t know what it means, but here is a garden that is at once peaceful and eventful in its own little way, inviting you to try to learn. Rest your legs for a bit, weary traveler, because if you stop to smell these little flowers, your refreshed spirit won’t regret it.