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Video premiere: Radical Face, ‘Holy Branches’

by Kevin Bronson on November 8, 2013

It’s selling Ben Cooper a bit short to call him a songwriter — the Florida-based artist known as Radical Face is more of a musical mythologist. In 2007, he earned notice for his concept album “Ghost,” based on the idea that houses retain memories of the events that occurred in them, and in 2011 he embarked on an album trilogy with “The Family Tree: The Roots,” a collection of folk songs that introduced his fictional 19th-century clan the Northcotes. Last month, the follow-up “The Family Tree: The Branches” emerged via Nettwerk, moving Cooper’s storyline ahead 50 years and imagining the songs as letters written from one generation to the former. The song “Holy Branches” furthers the sibling narrative started by “Severus and Stone” in “The Roots” — one brother has lived, one brother has perished, and the survivor remains haunted. As with all Radical Face’s videos, “Holy Branches” was directed by and stars Cooper (with an assist from his friends and family). It’s as vivid as Cooper’s lyrics: “Everybody’s bones are just holy branches cast from trees to cut patterns in the world / and in time we find some shelter, spill our leaves, and then sleep in the earth / and when there we’ll belong / ’cause the earth don’t give a damn if you’re lost.” Dark stuff, to be sure, but like a good book “The Family Tree” series is already yielding its rewards. (Oh, and lest you think everything is maudlin with Cooper, watch all the way to the end.)


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