Church of Trees ft. DeeDee Butters – Like Gary Numan
If I were a jealous or begrudging type of being, I’d most certainly find it very easy to dislike Mr Bernard Frazer with a passion. Why? Because ordinarily in this life people are blessed with qualities that are either one or the other. Hugely talented people, which Mr Frazer certainly is, are more often than not dreadfully unpleasant. The gift of talent that they have received has normally been balanced out by something lacking in their personality. Often they have inflated egos, an uncharitable nature or other such unappealing character flaws. Alternatively, those blessed with less talent are often compensated with lovely character traits. Kindness, humbleness and the like. Rarely are human beings blessed with both talent AND generosity of spirit. Mr Frazer is a rarity of this kind.
There’s something truly special about this song. Notwithstanding the fact that it’s a very, very catchy pop tune, there is a depth to it that allows it to sit in a category way above that of simple pop music. Indeed, if you’re looking for something tuneful to sing along to, tap your foot to or just simply enjoy as a backdrop of lively, beautiful sound whilst preparing dinner, this will do the job. However, if you’re looking for something with meaning to truly listen to at midnight in a darkened room with your headphones on, then this track also does that job with equal aplomb. And this is where it’s so very clever. It’s pop if you want it to be, but it’s also profound if you need it to be. The title suggests homage, which it does briefly flirt with, but it also has another more political undertone that delivers a more sinister message to the listener. Pop with true and artful meaning is a feat that few can pull off. I remember hearing the Human Leagues Lebanon for the first time as a youngster and recall with fondness the sudden realisation that something a lot deeper than pop music was pumping through my headphones. Politics and philosophy were being addressed, but in a way I could still sing along to. Like Gary Numan has revisited this art in a truly adept manner.
The track very much starts as it means to go on. Urgent, Numan-esque synth stabs tell you immediately that this song is not messing about. It’s here. It means business. There is a kind of backwards then forwards rhythmic judder to the rhythm section beneath the dramatic stabbed chord pattern of the synth which is, discarding clever sounding adjectives, bloody exciting.
The songs title, as I mentioned, suggests an homage, a tribute. I think it’s better described as perhaps a semi-homage. There is more than a singular meaning and direction to the message within the lyrics, which in all honesty, could have resulted in a dreadful mélange were it not for the depth of expertise and artistry that is clearly in abundance on this track. The chorus is delightfully catchy and poppy, whilst the more sinister aspects of the lyrics are reserved almost exclusively to the verses. In a logical world, it shouldn’t really work, but hey, who needs logic? This is art.
The lyrics are profound and dramatic without ever threatening pretentiousness. Pop is conspicuous in its presence on the chorus whilst the more sinister nature of the verses somehow nestles without hindrance right alongside. As a concept, they would seemingly be uneasy bedfellows. When brought together in this production-savvy fashion, they are not. The mention of secretive formulas on the dark web and such like are both intriguing and frankly, for want of a better or more intellectual phrase, downright cool! Indeed, there is an element that is way beyond clever within the fusion of retro-sounding music coupled with ultra-contemporary lyrics. One takes you back to a time before most of us had ever dreamed of something like the internet, the other pulls you firmly back into the present.
The overall production quality of this track is superb to say the least, not that saying the least is something you could, or even should about such an excellent offering. I’m not privy to who did what and who made what work on this production, but I do know that the exceptionally talented Jordon Zadorozny engineered and worked on the track at Skylark Park in Ontario. This in itself is a cast-iron guarantee of quality as Mr Zadorozny does not do mediocre.
And finally, the vocals. Oh my! The vocals. There’s subtlety and depth as well as sensitivity on display as DeeDee delivers the storytelling of the verses, and then, with one brief synth-style upsurge we are taken to a higher plain where subtlety is no longer needed. The chorus. Sensitivity and subtlety are dispensed with and are promptly replaced with the levels of power and clarity that such an ass-kicking chorus deserves. The chorus lyrics are not overly clever or densely populated, relying simply on the singer’s ability to deliver the message. If this was the original intent then it was truly accomplished with boldness and verve, but without unnecessary showiness or swagger, just the trademark assured confidence of a singer at the top of her game. And why would one be surprised? This is DeeDee Butters after all. Her voice is the power and the glory, Amen!
5 out of 5 Stars
Hail the creator of this piece of delicious Politico-Pop! Not that I’d be arrogant enough to presume it’s any great honour in the grand scheme of things, but you have forever been exalted to the highest echelons in the playlist of my life.