According to NPR, "Lost in the Trees is the music of Ari Picker, a songwriter from Chapel Hill" (and a former student at the Berklee School of Music ) "on a bit of a mission: Take a pinch of the brilliance found in classical music and mix it with his own. Lost in the Trees is orchestral folk where the "orchestral" part isn't an afterthought. This is mighty potent stuff."
"A few years ago, there was the soundtrack for Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums," Picker says, "and somehow there it all was — Ravel next to Paul Simon. I look at both my own songwriting and the music I admire most, and the common quality is that it's a sort of mash-up of everything and a labor of love."
A typical comment posted on the NPR site said, "Folks, Lost in the Trees are brilliant. The music is so powerful and so personal. Don't miss them live if you get the chance. Amazing."
The lyrics heard in the title track of their latest album, All Alone In An Empty House, are taken from arguments Picker's parents had in the house he grew up in. But according to NPR, "this isn't a data dump of depression; it's a record filled with hope and spirit."
And then there's this from CBS News:
Makeover For A Special Mom
After Mom's Hardships, Son's Wish For Her Comes True
March 23, 2006
Karen Shelton has struggled through some terrible times. So when her son, Ari Picker, wrote, asking to honor her in The Early Show's Week of Wishes, his letter stood out right away.
"Dear Early Show: I'm writing to nominate my mother for consideration for Week of Wishes," he wrote. "My mom has always been a fighter and she has gone after the things she believes in. When I was eight, my mom was told that she had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving breast cancer. She was alone and without insurance."
Even before the devastating diagnosis, life had been difficult for Shelton. Two years before giving birth to Ari, she lost twin girls who were born prematurely. Later, she left an abusive relationship to raise her son on her own. Cancer came as a blow out of nowhere.
"I didn't know what cancer was. It was 16 years ago. It had never been in my family. I was teaching aerobics and eating broccoli every day," she said.
"I think she was really scared for me. And I think the thing that kept her holding on was me. She didn't want to leave me," said Ari.
The other thing that kept Shelton going was the comfort she found in creative expressions, as an artist.
"Art gives you a connection to something bigger," said Shelton, who has an art gallery in North Carolina called Sizl Gallery. "And when I'm really feeling like I'm connecting and I think all artists feel this way it's almost a spiritual experience."
Ari says his mother's art was literally what helped her to survive. "It's like a representation of how she feels she wants her life to be," he explained, "which is colorful, it's beautiful, the figures in the paintings are peaceful, and she loves doing it, too."
Shelton passed down her love of the arts to Ari, whose own creative talent is music. A student at Boston's Berkley School of Music, Ari says his mother is his inspiration. "Just being surrounded by my mom and all her artwork, it made me want to express myself in the same way she did."