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When is fronting a band cheaper than hiring a therapist? Lost in the Trees invented their American-orchestral folk-pop music in North Carolina. Not to diminish Ari Picker in any way (he is the band’s primary songwriter), but the man writes about pain. For example, A Church That Fits Our Needs features Picker in an attempt to come to terms with his mother’s suicide. Karen Shelton (not to be confused with the Olympic medalist of the same name) killed herself after returning home from Picker’s wedding in 2009. She was an artist. She had cancer. A snapshot of her is the album art. “Don’t you ever dare/ Think she was weak-hearted,” Picker sings in “Icy River.” “She led me to the woods/ Where our church was started.”

Cello, violins, tuba, guitar, and drums have been in the changing lineup. The first version of the band included six members onstage; now there are four. It is a leaner machine that made, and is touring behind, Past Life, a full-length that was released in February of this year.

Past Event

Lost in the Trees and Icy Demons

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+

The Lost in the Trees concept came about while Picker was still a student at the Berklee College of Music. Some critics called their first record All Alone in an Empty House the surprise album of the year — in a good way. True to form, Picker made the lyrics for one of the tracks from arguments he’d overheard his parents having when he was a kid. Picker’s pensive (and alternately hopeful) considerations are couched in soft, cheerful instrumental sentiments. It makes for a weird and wonderful pop-music salad. And it’s been interesting, he admitted to a reviewer, taking this music into rock clubs. But as a fan, one wonders where this is going to go, or, if Picker will work through his stuff and one day be free of all that dark, cold wind banging around in his head.

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