Inspired, as he details in the liner notes, by everything from concepts of home to the course of a cross-country bicycling trip, Jefferson Pitcher creates one of his warmest and, for lack of a better term, traditional releases on The Residue. A strange description, perhaps, but for a student of experimental music Pitcher has always had an ear for direct lyrics and strong, conventional rock instrumentation, helped by a variety of collaborators including Christian Kiefer. The opening "The Edges of the Earth" sets the tone -- piano-led, soft, then softly charging playing, an understated kick that is almost classic rock as soother. From there, The Residue gently explores variations on the familiar -- a "home" that he subtly tests as much as celebrates, collaging martial beats and accordion melodies, moody feedback drones with gentle, forlorn twang. Pitcher is more than fine in straightforward terms -- "I Will Save You My Son" is his best lyric on an album full of good examples, but it's not all he can do. When the guitars suddenly arc up in volume at a dramatic moment in "The Sooner You Go," the assembled singers come together to help drive "Work of Kings" to a stirring conclusion, and distant melodies introduce the increasingly tense "Eubulides the Hero," each moment shows fine skill at work beyond strong songwriting in general. ~ Ned Ragett, All Music Guide
From the Artist: Before riding his bicycle across the United States in the summer of 2004, Jefferson Pitcher’s band Above the Orange Trees recorded twenty-two songs about the notion of home. As it turns out, this was the death of the band. Jefferson was married at the end of the trip and moved to a small village of 700 people in Ontario, Canada, where the snow fell and fell and fell. Five years, one son, and four cities later, The Residue is complete. Half of the songs were cut, and what remains are the remains of Above the Orange Trees.
Produced and mixed by Ron Guensche, Christian Kiefer, and Jefferson Pitcher, the record walks the line between the giant, orchestral, indie-rock Above the Orange Trees was known for (ala Smashing Pumpkins, and Radiohead) but also explores a quieter side of songwriting garnering comparisons to Rufus Wainwright and Okkervil River. Pitcher is joined on this recording by jazz great, Scott Amendola on drums, Christian Kiefer on acoustic instruments, Kristina Forester on piano and organ, and Ron Guensche on bass.
Similar to Above the Orange Trees songs on compilations from Tract Records, and Words On Music, The Residue is layered with dense and melodic electric guitars, and Brian Eno laden ambience. The residue begins with Pitcher singing of his grandfather's death as the first step in a journey from the familiar. He then examines the nostalgia inherent in the loss of home and the myriad ways that we deal with life's changing tide. Themes and influences from authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jim Harrison, Jane Urquhart, Rick Bass, and Federico Garcia Lorca all rear their heads in this project full of literary reference.
The songs grow from a quiet beginning on "The Edges of the Earth" reminiscent of Damien Rice, moving through bigger arrangements and Sonic Youth inspired guitar freakouts, until we reach Pitcher alone with an acoustic guitar on “Perfect Man,” where he sings “I am offering my secrets for you to tear down…”. At the end of the collection, the listener finds themselves contemplating unrequited dreams in “Boats on a Hill,” with its Sigur Ros-like wall of guitar ending, and the record finishes with the beautiful and dreamy lullaby titled, “On a Train in Germany,” which could easily have been pulled from a late night Cure b-side recording.
It is in the quiet and contemplative end of this record, where Above the Orange Trees say goodbye. We are carried into the other world on a train drifting and gliding through the German countryside, a quiet farewell, hinting at earlier work from the band's record titled I am not in Spain, which garnered comparison to Ennio Morricone. The record ends with Pitcher singing “we will sleep our lives away,” his voice falling into the guitars. Pitcher has since gone on to release solo work on Camera Obscura Records, Standard Recording Company, and Digitalis Recordings, leaving behind this last document of his work with Above the Orange Trees.