Top 20 Songs of 2008 - #9
By: Budd R. Phly, SoundProof Magazine
by Chad VanGaalen
The first single off of Chad VanGaalen's latest effort, Soft Airplane, "Willow Tree" reached No.1 on CBC Radio 3's R3-30 charts in November. At first listen, this banjo and accordion layered song may sound like a walk through a dewy meadow at dawn, but take a second listen and you might be surprised: "You can take my body, put it in a boat / Light it on fire, you can use the kerosene / Take my body, put it in a boat / Light it on fire, and send it out to sea."
Sounds more like some kind of religious sacrifice than a dewy meadow, no? Not many artists can pull off a song that sounds so jovial, but has such morbid lyrics quite like Calgary, Alberta's Chad VanGaalen. The beauty of "Willow Tree" is in its simplicity, both in chord structure and melody – mix that with VanGaalen's trademark wavering voice, and you have all the makings for an excellent song – one of the best of 2008.