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Shade of the Trees

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Album Review

The vaunted duo Storyhill (Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson) sing in perfectly paired melodies that suggest a brotherhood beyond familial ties or friendship. So musically bonded — pure products of their environment — the two keep their rural folk-derived concept within that undeniable, agreeable lineage no matter the circumstance or sentiment. The title Shade of the Trees contradicts the cover art, depicting a field of forestry either clear-cut or burned to the ground, suggesting the ironic consequences of life that can be overcome with the passage of time and patience. Though played in an unforced manner, these are not really lighthearted songs, as "Well of Sorrow" and "Caught in a Mess" suggest that better times will be difficult to find. Cunningham and Hermanson use harmony as an attachment rather than the main fare, as their voices intertwine nicely, though there's more of a discernible difference in their approaches during "Cover Your Tracks." Two-beat folk, easier feelings of love, and appreciation for the great outdoors, as well as some wonderful finger-style guitar from the two can be heard, and you also hear distinct echoes of the late John Denver in their music. Consistently pleasing and well produced by Grammy winner Dan Wilson, Storyhill keep rolling on with another typical, predictable, heartfelt effort. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Crazy good!

I really can't believe these guys aren't related. As far as singer/songwriter, folk and alternative country go, these guys are the best. Folkies can dig it, but for people who are fans of really good country or even jam bands can dig this stuff. Incredible harmonies, incredible album.

Be sure to see them live...

I had the self titled CD for several years and loved it. Obviously the harmonies and melodies are the standout feature of this duo. I had a chance to see them live and was so impressed at how these guys meld in song. The harmonies usher in a nostalgia for an earlier, simpler time. As well, not only are these guys great singers and songwriters they are both excellent guitarists.

All that said I was not bowled over by this album like I was the other. While I can apprieciate the stripped down production with no drums or bass, it tends to lose some dynamics and - frankly - some energy. The only song I was drawn to over and over was "Cover Your Tracks" which is fantastic. I also really liked the last track "Pieces of Love". These two songs reminded me the most of the Stoyhill CD and I guess that's what I was expecting. "Town Talks" was an interesting concept but I grew tired of it and started looking forward to the next song, that's never good.

I would urge anyone to see these guys live. The breath and depth of their song catalog is astounding and they mix it up with refreshing banter and short personal stories.


Formed: 1989 in Bozeman, MT

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The tale of Storyhill really begins in 1989, when Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson graduated from high school in Bozeman, MT, and recorded their first tape together. Friends since seventh grade, they'd begun playing together, but it proved to be a brief union. Cunningham moved to Spain, while Hermanson went to college in Minnesota, where he continued playing music, not only making a name for himself around town, but also selling the tape the duo had made. That was enough to bring Cunningham back,...
Full Bio
Shade of the Trees, Storyhill
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