- Released in June 1997
- Total duration: 52 minutes
- All the instruments appearing on the 13 songs are acoustic, including electric basses
- Includes a 10-page full-color folded thingamagic containing all lyrics
Click the track names for more information about each title
Trusties play minimalistic progressive rock. Or is it folk-music with Irish influences? Or is it melodic ethno-rock? There seem to be as many definitions for their musical style as listeners. In any case it’s unique, acoustic music. Three guys from Finland released Growing Smaller in 1997. The main theme of the album is the near relationship between man and nature as an opposite of the distant relationship between people themselves.
Sounds Of Life is the first, and longest, track of the album. It’s a nice upbeat song with fine harmony vocals and a joyful chorus. Trusties creates a pleasant sound, with influences as diverse as Crowded House, The Beatles, REM, CSN&Y, early Genesis (pre-Trespass), and the Police. This final group’s influence can be heard in Dream Of 3, which is built around a catchy repeated bass-line.
His Blue Sky is another joyful song, in which the main theme is repeated by several, different instruments, among these a marimba, which creates a lovely atmosphere. Away, on the other hand, is a more tragic song about the difficulty of brother-love and what can go wrong. The vocals sound a bit ‘Gaelic’.
The guitar in Morning Light reminds me of Anthony Phillips’ solo-work. As a result, Morning Light really is very gentle with a clarinet on top of it. Very beautiful. Of a more folky nature is Why? This mainly is a result of the story-telling character of the track. Why? also features a lovely middle part with pump organ, which adds to the atmosphere of the song.
Come is a very mysterious, slow and moody song. Although the singing is very different, a comparison to Marillion (Estonia) comes to mind. The middle part of the song is dominated by threatening drums, until the initial bass-riff returns.
After some other slower songs, Far Away, Lady Sun, and the beautiful Comanchio, strange sounds (Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother comes to mind) introduce Mother Earth, which is a more upbeat song. Personally, I consider this a welcome change, since I started to lose attention after a few of the slower songs.
Goodbye brings a fantastic combination of two acoustic guitars, one in your left speaker, the other right. An acoustic bass completes the trio. The musical skills of Oikarinen, Ylilauri and Veijlainen are also the center of attention in Further Away, the instrumental that ends the album. The pump organ creates a lovely, melancholic atmosphere for the clarinet and the nice acoustic guitar-solo.
The answer to whether this is prog or not, can hardly be given. Growing Smaller is a lovely, atmospheric, entirely acoustic album. The album is well-made, the songs well-written. Personally, I would have liked some more up-beat songs, but this doesn’t say the slower ones are boring. The warm sound of the album breathes the atmosphere of a campfire near one of the Finnish lakes. There isn’t a single drums-solo or widdly-widdly keyboard here, so be warned. Just sit back, relax and enjoy this very original album!
Conclusion: 7+ out of 10
– Jan-Jaap de Haan / DPRP
A band from Oulu rings the bells with their self-produced album, which brings us a breath from the 70’s. The acoustic stuff of Yes and the fresher sounds from the Sub-Urban Tribe flicker through my mind, as I listen to the 3-man band and some guest musicians play. These guys have invested in singing, which clangs nearly perfectly. What could be improved are the compositions (as you might guess), which lack personality after all. Indeed they drag behind their models, luckily not losing much though. The sleeve design is very stylish, which is rare for self-produced CD’s. Nature seems to be the biggest source of inspiration for the band. The most enchanting song to me is “Morning Light”. The album is available only in a limited set of stores, which can be found from www.puucd.com.
music: * * * * (out of 5 stars)
sound: * * * *
– Erkki Vuokila / Hifi magazine 4-5/98 (translation by V.V.)
If any domestic publication has surprised me mostly positively this year, it has to be this one; fully acoustic, well played and sung in English, self-produced, wrapped up smartly, foremost interesting musically… and it’s FINNISH!
Each of the three members of Trusties seem to have a good command of several instruments. The traditional acoustic guitars, basses and percussions dominate the music, but there are also woodwinds and (very few) keyboards added as spices. And what does Trusties sound like? If the guys tried to claim that they have never listened to prog bands, I wouldn’t believe. I caught impressions of such traditional names as Tull, G.Giant and Yes, but only momentarily.
Maybe because of the acoustic instruments, Trusties have developed into a band with their own sound. The atmosphere is very peaceful and clear, fast tempo can be heard only occasionally.
The overall sound quality on the ‘Growing Smaller’ is mostly excellent (is it so that if you produce an acoustic album you can invest more on good sounds??), playing is well balanced and tight, the vocal harmonies work great… but there are problems also. The vocalist has a pleasent voice, but pronunciation disturbs me at some times, and his style is a little monotonous. And after three listenings you can tell that the compositional ideas do not carry through the whole CD of 13 songs. Anyway this is a brave effort one can raise one’s hat off to.
It must also be mentioned that the sleeves with their tree-themes are VERY elegant. Next I’d like to know why they are acoustic, how this all would sound electrically, and does the band do gigs???
– Harold the Barrel / Colossus 3/97 (translation by V.V.)
This is not your typical prog, it may not even be rock. Sounds Of Life opens with clarinet, but for the most part this song is slightly accented singing, acoustic guitar often played in a percussive way, reminding me of that obscure band, The Origin. The chorus is quite jolly, the lyrics about somebody not wanting to be anything in our everyday society. With 5.34 this is also the longest track on the album.
Dream Of 3 is more up-beat, quite fast paced with repetitive sounding acoustic guitar, a nice bubbling bass over which the singer(s) sing their lyrics. The acoustic solo sounds slightly Middle-eastern. His Blue Sky is more folky, again quite fast-paced. It features, as an extra, the marimba of guest musician Matti Oikarinen. Away is comparable to Dream Of 3, but sounding somewhat more dreamy, later in the track the folk makes its entrance again and the boys sing some nice harmonies. Morning Light opens soothingly and features some great clarinet: the tones are really stretched out at times yielding at times a hairraising effect. Why? has a striking vocal melody with some nice effects such as a quiro. Then we get a soft and subtle intermezzo with dreamy vocals. A great track showing quite some development during the track. Come is a pastoral, repetitive track, slowly developing with all kinds of sounds interleaving. The instrumental intermezzo is quite loud with strumming guitars, bass drum and spacious clarinet? Then the peace returns. Faraway is again once of those “faraway” sounding tracks, dreamy, subtle and peaceful, as is Lady Sun. It often happens that during the singing the accents on the words are quite different from what one expects in English; poetic freedom I guess. After Comanchio we come to the Spanish sounding Mother Earth. I hope Goodbye should open in mono, but after a few bars, we back into stereo. The chorus is quite untypical, seemingly slightly vocoded. As always the melodies are very good. Closing down is Further Away with some beautiful clarinet.
Not your average progressive fair. They advertise themselves as the new sound of wood, and in fact all music is non-electrified on this disc. The vocals and lyrics are certainly okay, though the former are slightly Finnified, it is not disturbing. The sound of the album is very good and clear and there’s a great diversity of instruments. Melodically this is actually a great disc, and because the music is not really loud it is good to notice tht you can really follow what is happening. Having said this, you might get the impression that I like this disc and I do, but with progressive rock it does not have much to do. On the other hand, although acoustic and at times folky, the music is nowhere close to boring and actually a very pleasant listening enterprise, ranging from up-tempo folk to pastoral, soothing soundscapes. No music to vacuumclean your house on, but to just lay or sit down and relax a bit.
– Jurriaan Hage / Axiom Of Choice
The Trusties come from Finland. I find myself with a problem classifying this album, is it prog or folk or something else? So I’m going to give you the description the band gives of themselves and then I’ll take it from there.They describe their music as “minimalistic progressive rock. Or is it warm spirited folk -music with some Irish influence? No, no….melodic ethro-rock”. Well, that is what you get, but you get it with a touch of magic or is it inspiration? This band are so good I’m nearly lost for words (well not quite). From the opening track “Sounds Of Life” with it’s Tullish beginning and vocals which have hints of Ian Anderson, Kerrs Pink, Hook of Ancient Vision and Cat Stevens ( Lilywhite ) you may get an idea of what to expect as this format more or less continues throughout the whole album, although the chorus lets this track down. The only other track I am not too keen on is “Dream Of 3 ” which is a bit too much on the jazzy side. Other than this I can’t help but think that this is an important album which should be heard and fans of the above should at least give it a try, maybe they will like it, especially the tracks `”His Blue Sky”, “Why”, “Away”, “Morning Light”, (this is a haunting song which has a nice clarinet mixed in there) and the brilliant instrumental number “Further Away” which surprisingly sounds quite symphonic considering the lack of synths etc. If you like the above artists then give it a try !!!! The vocals are excellent and if you imagine Tull or Ancient Vision minus keyboards, synths, electric guitars and drums and then add a splash of Cat Stevens you might have an idea of what this sounds like, i.e. acoustic progressive rock.
– Teddy Tucker / European Progressive Rock Page
The letter that came with this one said that it’s a do it yourself production. Well, it’s not, guys. Not compared to some of the DIY things I’ve heard. The production is clean, clear and consistent. Plus, the cd booklet is just as good as the major labels. I mean, it is Very attractive, and includes, of course, all the words.
The music? Well, when it first began, I wondered if I was going to be in Jethro Tull territory. No. Trusties have a sound all their own, though they do tip their hats Greatly to the progressive music community. There are quiet moods of bass, keyboard(?) and voice like on ‘Come’. I like these times. When Trusties get like this, with their larger than life Yes sort of lyrics, I could listen all day. ‘endless are the rumours / speechless the days / self-suggestion’s contagious / you’ve chosen your way.’
‘Morning Light’ is a good song to listen to when you get up with the sun. Acoustic guitar running like a small child. Voice as if preaching to God, or giving thanks to the universe of nature. Even though there is a spirituality of love here that seeks answers. ‘am I breaking into pieces / do I need someone to guide me? / sorrow’s waiting round the corner / that’s nothing new.’
This is a 3 man band, with 1 special guest. A very good sound for just these three. Basically, Matti Ylilauri is on vocals (and 12 other things); Marko Oikarinen is on guitars (and 12 other things); Ville Veijalainen is on bass (and 12 other things). They are from Finland, and worth your wait at the import shop.
– Ben Ohmart / Nzone-magazine