After recording her second album Bomb in a Birdcage, Alison Sudol, better known as A Fine Frenzy, found herself in emotional turmoil. Her life was frenzied but things were not fine.
“Basically I lost myself, I lost my joy,” Sudol explained. “I made my first record in a bubble and when it came to my second record I felt rebellious, pressured and confused. When I went to make Pines I had to break these walls I had made over the years to deal with these confusing feelings. I had to go back to basics, why I make music and what makes me happy as a human being and rebuild my life from there.”
The result is a record that while Sudol admits is at a different pace from everyday life, deals with the fear of taking risks- a theme that saturates society.
“The overriding thesis of the record is that we can get into this mode where we’re just functioning. We get comfortable and so afraid to change even that means being constantly slightly unhappy because were afraid to take risks.”
Sudol takes risks on Pines that pay off in the most unexpected ways. When listened from start to finish Pines tells the story of a solitary standing tree after its surrounding forest is destroyed. The album’s tracks are emotionally-charged tales that follow the tree as it seeks a new beginning.
On the track “They Can’t If You Don’t Let Them”, fans hear a side of Sudol they’ve never heard before. “That song is bananas,” Sudol joked. “There’s a place that I let myself go to when I wrote that song of really embracing the fight because I’m not naturally a fighter in an obvious sense . . . when we recorded it, I felt I was teetering on the edge of madness. I’ve never allowed myself to be that raw or out of control.”
On “Avalanches”, Sudol examines the nurturing side to taking risks. “Sometimes what can give you strength is helping someone else- that something needs your protection and your care can make you stronger,” she shared.
Pines’ imagery and storytelling, which some may consider a risk in this day and age of music, transports listeners to a youthful alternate realm where the power to take risks and make changes could be as simple as seeking out a magical potion.
But the story doesn’t stop at the end of the record. As both stand-alone pieces and companions to the album, Sudol has released both a book and short film. The illustrated book, The Story of Pines, finds Sudol revisiting childhood wonders.
“I wanted to capture the feeling I had when I first started getting into reading The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland,” she shared. “When I first got taken on a real journey in a book had such a profound impact on me that I wanted to create that same sense of wonder being led into a completely, different, beautiful fully-fledged world.”
The journey to Pines is rewarding for both artist and fan but it’s really only beginning. A Fine Frenzy is set to whisk Atlanta away to the land of Pines, Thursday November 8th when her tour stops at The Buckhead Theatre.
“I’m really excited to go through the arc of [these songs] and connect to people,” Sudol beamed. “Every night will be different with what connects and resonates and I’m excited to see how they evolve and what new meanings I find in them.”
A risk worth taking indeed.