A deceptively light tune, ‘Treetops‘ by The Famous Daxx has layers you won’t notice at a glance. Inspired by fairy tales, the song has a playfulness in its music combined with heart-wrenching pain in the lyrics, which deconstruct the stories we take for granted as being light-hearted just because they are told to children.
‘Treetops’ is set long after the story of Hansel and Gretel’s abandonment by their father. It is sung from Gretel’s perspective as she laments the death of her brother at his own hand, after finally succumbing to the trauma of his childhood. The song makes a statement about masculinity and mental health, and its impact on men’s lives, whilst also being an exploration of how it feels to love someone struggling with their mental health and the conflicting, long lasting emotions that tragedy can trigger.
It’s a gentle song; the vocals are soft, and flow delicately over almost playful slide guitars. The sorrow in the words and the darkness of the subject matter overall is hidden by the air of lightness in the music, which itself acts as a challenge to our perception of stories. Much like the original tale, the sweetness of the sound masks the suffering at its core.
‘Treetops’ doesn’t have a happy ending. In the same breath that Gretel resolves to speak out, she fails to break the cycle – “This time I will speak my mind / I open my mouth but nothing comes out” – leaving her pain lingering in the air. The track is profound, but doesn’t pretend to have answers to the helplessness Gretel feels; it laments that all Gretel’s love ultimately couldn’t save her brother from his pain, and knows there isn’t an easy solution that can be condensed into a three minute song. But it leaves you with the undeniable conviction that it’s worth the work it will take to find one anyway.
‘Treetops’ is out now, ahead of The Famous Daxx’s upcoming debut EP TFD.
Photo Credit: Hannah Mason