The Roots, The Leaves is the sophomore effort of Portland, Oregon based multi-instrumentalist cars & trains (Tom Filepp), a more personal and emotive foray than his 2007 full length debut Rusty String. Tom deftly mixes out-of-the-box electronics and found sounds seamlessly with a myriad of instruments–woodwinds, banjos, acoustic guitars, strings and glockenspiel–walking a blurry line that makes one wonder where exactly the uncommonly organic drum programming ends and the instruments and lushly layered found sounds begin.
On his first Fake Four Inc. release, Tom does what he shines at, as in previous efforts–vividly creating microscopic ship-in-a-bottle worlds with circular themes that one can imagine crawling into, like a favorite childhood hiding place, while brooding nostalgically on a favorite time or place long since past. His distinctive and thickly layered vocals sit atop soft but steadily pulsing guitars, malfunctioning toys, twangy banjos, crooning woodwinds and dirge-like trumpets, weaving a nimbly produced record that tells a succinct and engaging story.
Lyrically “The Roots” is much more vested in storytelling, painting vivid pictures of moss-laden decaying buildings, rusty railroad tracks, and dusty urban settings, all tinged with hints of nature and melancoly. Drawing on inspiration both from his adopted hometown of Portland and from his native Hudson Valley in New York, Tom builds on reoccuring themes that make the listener feel like they are part of something special and intimate. The ten tracks are more staked in a carefully hewn songwriting sensibility, while focusing to a greater extent on Tom’s singing and lush vocal harmonies than before.
Many guest artists contribute vocals and a diverse array of instruments to The Roots, The Leaves, including a handful of fellow labelmates on Fake Four Inc. (like Ceschi Ramos, Alexander Chen of Boy In Static), in addition to some Portland, Oregon locals. Carrying on the mantle of previous releases.