After I finish writing this morning, I am going to go outside and enjoy the beautiful seventy degree spring day. I am going to the market to buy vegetables, then I will go to the park and lie in the grass and stare at the sky. I will climb on the rocks by the shore and probably sit in the big willow tree and enjoy the breeze, watching the ships come in closer and closer. After some time with Patchy Sanders, this is probably what you will want to do with your day too–except add more frolicking, dancing, and falling in love. Patchy Sanders is one of those bands who I wonder at, simply because they have so very many people, and instruments, and influences going on but instead of their product being overwhelmingly busy, it’s just awesome. Patchy Sanders is a seven piece orchestral folk band hailing from Oregon. It’s a couple of sisters, their partners, a few friends, and a girl who they picked up at the farmer’s market. They play guitars, banjos, upright bass, violin, bouzouki, ukulele, mandolin, harp, pennywhistle, a variety of percussion, and a bunch of other stuff I am either missing or forgetting. “And the Wild Peach Forest” is Patchy’s first album, but it’s the album they dreamed of making and definitely one I never dreamed I would find.
“And the Wild Peach Forest” opens up with bluegrass-y fingerpicking. It’s fast and wonderful. The voices begin and start to tell their story. The music does not slow down, but carries you along with the sweet melodies to a completely different kind of place. There are definite modern influences. The way that the voices are used is unique and a little experimental. The music has a celtic, almost medieval feel about it. It is skillful and quick, but simple and joyful. I love the backing choral harmonies that join and create a glowing ambiance to support the story being told.
This band has so much energy. I bet they would be amazing to see live because they just feed off from each other. “Mandoline” is one of the most precise, upbeat songs I have ever heard. The instruments! The voices! The harmonies! I can’t keep my hands and feet still to this song. It’s so happy! It’s a song about a girl who brings joy and harmony and that’s exactly what this song brings.
“Carried by Cider” is slower, more earthy, less exciting but in a good way. It’s a story about the land. The voices are choral and beautiful. The instruments sound like they are all one thing–unified. Their precision is amazing. This song sounds like sunshine and a cool breeze on a hot day.
“Ancient Ancestry” opens with just a chorus of harmonies. This song would be a perfect part of the soundtrack to Disney’s “Brave”. It has Scottish and Celtic roots, a slightly somber sound, supported by a league of voices across a wide range of notes. It has a feel almost like chanting. It’s a song about being connected to the earth. The earth having seen the human race grow to where it is now. The land has seen all of our ancestors grow up, grow old, pass away. It holds so many secrets of the past. This song is a celebration of those secrets.
My favorite song on the album is one of the sweetest, simplest love songs I’ve ever found. “Between a River and a Wood” is about lovers who meet beneath a fig tree. They dance among the daisies along the river. It’s a duet. Male and female verses, choruses sung together. The music is more simple than any of the other songs so far. Violin is the main supporting sound, running along the melodies with the voices–like the river in the song. The lyrics are so poetic and pretty I can’t pick just one to share. You have to listen to it and enjoy it. If you like all of those sweet old Irish ballads, you’ll love “Between a River and a Wood”.
My OTHER favorite song on the album is “As a Tree”. I love the imagery evoked by the lyrics. “I had a dream that I died and didn’t feel the fear.” The singer sinks into the ground and swims among the rock and bones of birds. He tries to come out of the ground, but is sent back. He grows into a tree, survives the seasons, grows new leaves, feels like a king and understand miracles. I love this story. It is beautifully and poetically told, accompanied by beautiful voices and glorious instrumentals.
Patchy Sanders has a fresh antiquated feel. They are young and excited, yet as old as the mountains. The music evokes imagery of stone trolls, glaciers, fires at night, sleeping outside, organic farming, rope swings over the lake, feeling the grass grow, falling in love a thousand years ago, mythology, community, flower children, Shakespeare, worms, clay pots, and the aurora borealis. It may evoke something completely different for you. It takes you back to the roots of folk that are so deep, no one really knew they existed, yet–it also introduces you to something fresh and new. Patchy Sanders is a wonderful group of talented, passionate musicians who are doing what they love and making the world a better place through it. If you life on the west side of the United States, fulfill my dream by going to see them live–I am betting it would be an amazing experience. The rest of you–go check out their album. It is worth your time and will bring a smile to your face and probably inspire you to go dig in the dirt.