The Sugar Oaks – Red Grapes in the City EP

The Sugar Oaks
Red Grapes in the City EP

The Sugar Oaks hail from Florida and released their debut EP Red Grapes in the City in the summer of 2007. So, this review is a little late, but the recent discovery of this disc in the stacks and the superb music contained herein, nearly demanded some words – late or not.

Red Grapes in the City is a gentle album filled with soft folk and pop music that draws as much influence from any of the Golden Oldies as it does from contemporary artists such as Wilco. This is lazy day, summertime music – or in the case of the perpetually warm Florida – everyday languid music. The songs here are lush without being overbearingly so and mellow without being snoozers.

“Los Rebeldes” begins with some drawn out keyboard notes and twangy guitar which set the stage for Zaumeyer and Gersting’s sweet girl-boy vocal harmonies. Their voices are soothing and a guest musician weaves a peaceful cello thread throughout the song. The title track couldn’t be more beautiful and the calmness of the music easily disguises the intensity of the song. As you delve deeper into lyrics like “Girl why would you hurt me now? I’m your best friend in the world” you find there is a subtle intensity that you don’t immediately notice. “Clearwater Blues” (not a drug song, according to the band’s website) as a very 70’s AM radio feel with the inclusion of tenor and alto sax and soft drum sweeps.

It seems Zaumeyer is no longer with The Sugar Oaks. What a shame. Her pretty voice is one of the things that really make Red Grapes in the City stand out. Sure, the guys in the band also create nice harmonies but Zaumeyer’s voice just meshes so nicely. This loss aside, The Sugar Oaks have a really, really bright future ahead. Blissed-out folk pop this damn good doesn’t bubble up out of the water every day. This band has surely warmed at least one cold and dreary Northeast afternoon today.