Hey my beautiful readers. Today, I’d like to introduce to you the music of Cynthia Brando – an American Indie Folk singer/songwriter/musician based in exciting Los Angeles whose music incorporates elements of Folk and a bit of Alternative. Her music flows passionately and powerfully in the same way that a river ebbs and flows – it holds you tight but allows for escape.
This is vividly seen on her most recent piece of work entitled “The Treehouse Trio Sessions” a soul inspiring EP that basically places a practical frame around the complex life of a woman – her loves, her mystery, and her life.
The EP has 11 tracks:
- California Song
- Take Me Back to That Place
- Do You Know What to Do
- Isn’t It True
- I’ve Got A Love
- The Changing Skies of My Life
- End of The World
- Wildest Dreams
- All the Things in Your Room
This is a capsule review of “The Treehouse Trio Sessions” where I place an emphasis only on the tracks that I feel highlight the EP’s premise in its entirety: four were chosen by Brando herself “Afterthought,” “California Song,” “Take Me Back to That Place,” and “End of the World,” as well as two that I chose, “Do You Know What to Do” and “Wildest Dreams.”
We start this review with the second track “Afterthought” a song about the reality of how some relationships end quicker than they begin – kind of like a missed phone call. There is a first meeting, a short journey of dialog and love, and then it is gone. Brando sings “it’s clear that I am just an afterthought, you’re moving like the wind before this song begins.” Using basic instrumentation and mild vocals, Brando was able to create a wonderful song that is laid back and traditional with its folk arrangement and melody, yet modernly practical in its production and execution – it’s almost like a Soft Rock Folk marriage of the best pieces.
When you first see the title of “California Song,” you immediately think, “this is a song only about California – the beaches, sand, jeeps, that overall chilled, relaxed atmosphere of the state itself” and sure it is, but only to an extent. This track is more about uprooting and making a new life in a bigger place than where you come from. That is what Brando did when she left her small town, and on her own, drove to California and started all over – this took ambition, courage, and willpower. Brando sings “299 to the ocean shore / redwoods reaching to the sun / this is my California song / a wild heart moved into my soul.” One aspect of women, that many may not know, is that we can adapt and change in many situations – we are almost like chameleons in that way – we are more like to bend instead of break, and it is wonderful that Brando paints this beautiful female power so poetically in this song. The best thing about this song is that it displays accomplishment. A small-town girl moves and embraces her wild heart – her true self. Brando’s airy melodies and those spontaneous happy Southwestern chord progressions played magnificently on the guitar are so pleasing. A musical diary entry.
The way the fourth song starts with those guitar chords, it is like your emotions are trilling down steps to invite in calm – that is just what this track does, it invites tranquility. One of the most inviting and emotionally receiving tracks is “Take Me Back to That Place.” On this track, Brando is still easy on the vocals but strong enough to execute the longing effect of the song’s storyline – only a storyteller can accomplish this effect and make it workable. Canvasing the picture of longing, the lyrics sing: “life’s illusions, love’s confusions, hearts on fire, filled with desire, take me back to that place, the dessert full of grace, a wonderer inside has nowhere left to hide.” The easy ridging acoustic guitars and lead are transforming and tranquil - this is the comfort zone of the entire collection.
A few bass chords, and you are set for some easy listening. “Do You Know What to Do” is that perfectly fused Folk track that embraces some Country in its melody and tempo. On this track, Brando allows the music to really set the pace from a steady pace to a slow strut – this technique serves a dual purpose: one, it allows for the listener to fully grasp the lyrical interpretation of a woman pondering on life’s unexpected mysterious turns, and two, it allows for meditation which keeps you wanting more.
The layers of guitar chords and riffs on “End of The World” sets up a track that is textured and quietly paced. In the same manner that Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility helped the modern world in her time to see the importance of living life to its fullest in the form of a novel, Brando’s “End of the World” does basically the same thing in the indie music world. Practically and effortlessly, Brando lyrically spells out a path of life recognition musically. True, in Austen’s book, there are other principle themes that have nothing to do with Brando’s track (i.e. – gender, wealth, or class issues) but I could not help to see how such a modern piece of music could identify with a classic novel by its practical message of don’t wait to make a change, just do it, and if something needs to be changed, change it – nothing is set in stone! Moreover, the guitar skills on this track is nothing short of experienced-genius. It fully wraps itself around the concept of the track. In short, “End of the World” has a sort of shared journey of the human experience.
What caught my ear on “Wildest Dreams” first was that introduction, that spine tingling lead acoustic guitar spearheading a provoking melody. “Wildest Dreams” is a perfect song for artists and creative minds to pay attention to as it drives home the honest truth of how your best self is already within you, you just have to recognize it and use it. Brando sings “you’ve made it so far without knowing who you are and it shows through when you play a tune in the dark / a voice calls out loud and clear, stop clinging to all those empty fears from many years / you strum a chord and sing your song, time stands still . . . . beyond your wildest dreams.”
Brando is an avid storyteller and her audience can fully grasp and understand her journey. Her music is the type that gives the same effect musically that finding money releases in a person: excitement first, inquisition next, and then pure sublimity because it encompasses that wild at heart and borderless perfection that never goes out of style – it just keeps recycling from decades to decades as it is that magnet that connects us humans to accept each other and live life to the fullest.
Even with the constant influx of mainstream music dominating the airwaves with trivial music topics, such classic artistry like Brando is so well accepted today, because artists like Brando know how to tell a story and make it relatable with the right use of vocal, lyric, melody, music, and tempo. And she vividly paints a practical picture with her lyrics that makes her audience ponder and see things in a different light. That is what made us love Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Janice Joplin, and Kim Carnes.
A special musical shout-out goes to music engineer Ed Tree and Bassist Dickie Chandle for their talents on this EP.