The third studio album from Hey Rosetta!, Seeds features overwrought storytelling buttressed by deftly orchestrated song structure. The group’s use of piano, cello, and violin fused with the pathos of nostalgia and family is comparable to something by Stars or Matt Costa. There are sublime stretches where everything coalesces perfectly, but the album is periodically victimized by its own ambition.
The signature sonic qualities of the 11 tracks on Seeds are the pace and climatic endings. The archetypal song structure ensconces listeners into a defined emotion in songwriter Tim Baker’s mind, and with the backing of the string section, he kindles a small campfire and delves into a concept. In most circumstances, Hey Rosetta! pours gasoline on the creation, spawning an epic blaze during the bridge followed by frantic conclusions typically accompanied by a distorted guitar. Sometimes these scattered transitions are rewarding, while at other times it feels disjointed.
The string section in Seeds leaves a lukewarm sentiment. In songs like “Young Glass”, the violin aids Baker’s soothing voice, while on other inclusions (“Parson Brown”) it dominates and clouds a track’s message. Conversely, “Bandages” features Baker alone with an acoustic guitar, providing the best verses of the entire album, proving sometimes bare is better.
While the music in Seeds teeters from transcendent to misguided, the lyrics never waver, and Baker expertly navigates the past and the possibilities of the future. In “Welcome”, Baker narrates the process of fatherhood, waxing about the joy of watching his child enter the world, then traveling 30 years later to warn the young adult about the regret and the importance of letting go, singing, “So forget where you’ve been/It’ll never be that good again/And we must only look ahead.” Meanwhile, “Seventeen” is told from the viewpoint of an idealistic teenager peering over the horizon, singing, “We’re always on the edge of something bigger than this.”
These two tracks (and much of the album) draw listeners to one question: What happened in the years between the fervent teen’s passion and the jaded father’s forewarning? Its purpose is to drive listeners to their parents’ closets to look at old photo albums, although, according to Baker, nostalgia should be consumed with caution. Sometimes, without even realizing it, revisiting the past can be all-encompassing.
Essential Tracks: “Yer Spring”, “Young Glass”, “Welcome”, and “Bandages”