Joe Firstman, “Live At The Treehouse” (3.5/5)
(written for suburban roads magazine)
As the summer draws to a close, the need for a last ditch attempt to “chill” in the summer haze is imminent. Fortunately for you, Joe Firstman, originally from North Carolina and now residing in California, has made that last bit of slow, dreamy summer easily achieved with his album Live At The Treehouse. And with that said, add a front porch swinging bench to sit on, some sunglasses, and an icy pitcher of lemonade while you’re at it, because it’s that exact imagery that the vibe of this record evokes.
With elegantly crafted lyrics, and beautifully subtle tone, most likely due to the method of recording (the “live at” phrase in the title highlights the way in which both vocals and instruments were recorded simultaneously to get that live but tuned feel), this album plays smoothly, and has an evident gracefulness about it. Along with the lullaby-like voice Firstman lends to his work, quite a few fantastic voices are also featured to aid the show-like feel of the record, including Jamie Drake, Tim Jones, Walker Young, Jay Buchanan, Mike Vizcarra, and Brian Wright. With tracks like “Fight Song (ft. Brian Wright)”, you get the powered feel of a rambling southern story, and while tracks like “Middle Ground (ft. Jay Buchanan)” and “Crowded Town” are slightly more sleepy than the upbeat tracks, it’s just what the album needs for a feel of roundabout emotional completion. In fact, “Crowded Town” solidifies the fact that this album will last on your music radar. Another highlight, “Pretty Things (ft. Tim Jones and Walker Young)”, screams to be named your last minute summer anthem with its drawn out drawl, sing-along chorus, and great underlying guitar.
All in all, while the summer is closing its doors to welcome fall into the picture, Joe Firstman’s album let’s one dwell in the warm comfort that relaxation in the summer months brings. Live At The Treehouse is a fluid album, accomplished in both the ride it takes the listener on and in Firstman’s ace musical sensibilities.