A strong debut release with charming echoes of effortlessly cool 70s folk.
“Round and round and round we spin,” comes the crisp, delicate voice of Haylie Hostetter, alias Lady Apple Tree, on ‘Round and Round’. “There and back again / Starting where we end / Round and round we spin,” she continues as her words too begin to spin in dizzying repetitive circles. It’s an interesting opening for the Northern Californian native, whose name may be new your ears, but who has in fact been toiling away in music for sometimes just outside of the spotlight – working with the likes of Sam Burton, Sylvie and the band Drugdealer – but with this, her debut recording as an artist in her own right, she has decided it’s finally her time to shine.
On ‘Silver Hands’, Hostetter tells a coming-of-age fable of a girl: “Daughter of the miller, spirit so pure / Dressed in white linen at the devil’s door / The demon found her and her innocence / Spilled the red river and her youthfulness.” Here and throughout, her voice has an endearing Joni Mitchell, Laurel Canyon quality to it that pulls you in and makes you feel instantly intrigued by whatever tale she may be telling.
The jaunty ‘Flame’ sees Hostetter acknowledging that she’s ignited something strong in a relationship with another, and as dangerous as that may be, she can’t find the will to extinguish it (“In the brutal August heat, from the sunshine of our love / There is no use in water, and shade won’t ease my pain / But flower I’d rather burn than be put out by the rain”), and in ‘And There She Was’ she uses a similarly fire-themed metaphor, although this time the subject of the song is running short on flames: “One more match is in her hand, she’s burning all she can / No more matches left to go, to help forget the snow / And there she was, a dreaming for some matches”.
‘So Long’ is expansive and dreamlike, the repetitive nature of its lyrics reflecting the long and sometimes lonely distance of life, although on ‘Midnight Oil’ Hostetter insists that her loved one should go on without her and continue to burn the proverbial: “When the moon is high, and you said goodbye / Apples are my eyes for you, till you’re out of sight / Don’t you turn around, don’t you shed a tear / Horizon eyes my dear, burn the midnight oil.”
“Lady Apple Tree, why ‘ya doing this to me? / I’m only but a wanderer,” Hostetter says on the track titled after her musician moniker. “When the time is ripe, drizzled in sunrise,” she continues before insisting: “I’m only but a wanderer.” A wanderer she may be, but in Lady Apple Tree, Hostetter seems like she’s found a place to stay – even if it needs a few minor adjustments, that time is sure to provide, to turn it from a house into a forever home.