Elevate Difference

A Chopping Block

The death of Jim Henson was probably one of the single most traumatic events of my childhood. By that time, I was old enough to realize that Kermit was created by Jim Henson, but still young enough to have a certain amount of love for Sesame Street. (Okay, I was ten, which is a bit old for Big Bird, but I was a late bloomer.)

You are probably asking yourself a variety of questions at this point. One of them is probably: “Why the hell are you bringing up this utterly horrible nightmare from your childhood when I was expecting to read a review of Pree’s album A Chopping Block? Do you also like slapping kittens when watching Oprah?” Really, though, stick with me here.

I still watch (and love) all things Jim Henson. But no matter how silly or sweet the show is, I still get this feeling of sadness. I can’t watch Gonzo or his girlfriend Camilla without thinking about Jim Henson. I can’t look at my Kermit doll (yes, I still have a Kermit doll) without wiping a little tear from the corner of my eye. It’s kind of the same feeling with musicians like Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor—and also bands like Pree.

Their music is really, honestly great, heartfelt, and sort of cute in a quirky way, but there’s something deeper to all of their songs—something that makes you feel a little bit like you are watching a butterfly dying in a jar. Pree talks an awful lot about things like ghosts, and graveyards, and worrying too darn much. Pree has real talent and a creative and original ear behind their songs. While they do sound quite a bit like Newsom or Spektor, they also manage to keep an original voice.

There is absolutely no question that their songs sound like their songs—not like someone else’s. Pree mixes piano, guitar, violin, glockenspiel, melodica, and drums together in a way that is modern, while whispering sweet nothings from folk music of the past. They also manage to keep that sing-songy cuteness, while making you think of ghosts, and graveyards, and worrying too darn much. Like Kermit the Frog, or Big Bird, or Gonzo the Great, it is comforting while being really, incredibly sad at the same time—like hugging the afghan that your dead grandma knitted. Trust me, their music is worth the time, and the Kleenex.

Written by: Emily S. Dunster, June 5th 2009