The track-by-track differences between the first and second versions of All Alone in an Empty House | Music Feature | Indy Week

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The track-by-track differences between the first and second versions of All Alone in an Empty House



If you originally purchased Lost in the Trees' debut LP, All Alone in an Empty House, via Trekky Records, you might think there's no reason to nab the disc released by ANTI- earlier this year. But you'd be wrong: Ari Picker rearranged and rerecorded most of the album with indie production veteran Scott Solter, even adding two songs. Here, track by track, we look at the changes.

Song Old New
"All Alone in an Empty House" The original version of the title track emphasizes Ari Picker's guitar and voice. When the strings and other parts arrive, they mostly shimmer in the background, providing support and rounding out the subtle beauty. The instrumental bits are more a star of the show. First the strings enter—bold, competing with Picker—to add woozy unease. As the song moves forward, French horn and tuba blast forward in the mix, adding a Phantom of the Opera-style grandeur.
"Walk Around the Lake" The strings are ever the star in this song. That's true in this version. Here the sharp orchestral riff that opens the song is played with some repeated notes instead of just long bow strokes. The effect gives the song a haunting quality. Here the string salvo is boosted in the mix and rips through mostly on the strength of clean bow strokes. Emma Nadeau's warble is added to the attack, humanizing the macabre of the instrumentals.
"Mvt. I Sketch" This baroque chamber instrumental comes complete with harpsichord. The interplay between the instruments is lively here, building the drama of the record before it moves into its middle section. Not a lot has changed here. The mix is more dynamic, which really benefits the strings. They come through clearer, allowing the listener to more easily tell each instrument apart.
"Song for the Painter" This song is mostly stripped back, with the orchestral bits only really playing at the beginning and middle. On this version, there's a roughness to the recording of Picker and his guitar. It gives the song a bedroom feel, which enhances the intimacy of the very personal lyrics. All of the parts are cleaned up, including Picker's performance. He doesn't sound polished so much as definitely in a professional environment. The impact in this version stems from plaintive, trembling vocals.
"Fireplace" This is the only song on the record defined by a guitar riff. Here, that riff cuts through the mix in a way that's jagged to the point of sounding alien. It's distracting, making it hard to hear the verses. The riff is less distorted and sits lower while Picker is singing. It still slices through the song, as it should. It drives home the inherent desperation of Picker's shocking lyrics. Here the guitar also engages in vibrant interactions with the strings.
"Love on My Side" By far the least ornate song on Empty House, it's sung over simple folk strumming with only percussion and backing vocals in the refrains. Youthful glockenspiel and tambourine are added here, making the arrangement an appropriate retreat to simpler times in response to the heartbreak of being told that "Love is not enough."
"Wooden Walls of this Forest Church" This is another stripped-back one. Short and simple, this version achieves its spiritual message with acoustic guitar and organ. Augmented by angelic female vocals and piano, this new arrangement is richer and fuller. It also plays into an outro of gorgeous strings that leads into the first of two new songs.
"A Room Where Your Paintings Hang" Not included on the first version of the album. This spark plug of a tune was smartly added in a spot where the album's energy sagged. Staccato acoustic strumming and military drums lead as dramatic strings nail home an arrangement that gracefully balances desperation and hope.
"We Burn the Leaves" Not included on the first version of the album. Another new addition showcases elegant interplay between accordion and strings as Picker digs into one of the album's most emotional narratives.
"Mvt. II Sketch" This affecting instrumental feels out of place after the short, light first version of "Wooden Walls." This made the end of the record drag in its original release. Playing after "We Burn the Leaves" with more nuanced production, the second instrumental sketch now carries the tension from "Leaves" into the album's finale.
"For Leah and Chloe" The orchestral swells that play around Picker are light in this version and leave him exposed. He feels alone, and this makes the claim that he's "healed his heart" a little hard to buy. Here the strings come in bright and strong, embracing Picker like a blanket. The vocal is more radiant as well, with Picker supported by Nadeau. These improvements drive home the album's hopeful coda, rounding out the album's personal impact.

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