There is a much sought after trait in a musical artist; the ability to transport the listener's emotions to another world. In this regard, Helen is a magician. When she sings, "I can make you smile without even trying" on her album Treehouse, she isn't lying—her musical emotions are purely contagious. When she is happy, you are happy. When she is sad, you are sad. Lucky for us, Helen Austin is usually very happy.
Like the very best acoustic performers, less is more for Helen. Without the bells and whistles, Helen's full personality is let out to shine as bright as a sunny spring day. The opening song on Treehouse, "Everybody," shares a life philosophy in simple affectionate terms that wrap around the listener's heart like a warm hug. The closer, "Wonderful Day," is the theme song you've always wished was playing whenever you go out for a stroll.
With a sweet bobbing voice and lyrical playing, Helen's sound fits right in with the likes of Kimya Dawson and the plethora of bands starring Kimya Dawson, but without the sense of ironic detachment. Helen's words and notes are real in the way the best moments in life are real, and she is sincere in every phrase without losing one precious moment of quirkiness.
A mother of two, Helen Austin is able to look at the world in child-like wonderment, but also has the maturity to reflect on and articulate that wonderment. Her songs, like her album's namesake song "Treehouse," where she suggests to herself, "I gotta get out of my head," are reminders that there is a world out there to explore.
Helen is not all rainbows, though, or at least, she knows that oftentimes rainbows have to follow dark clouds and heavy rain. The songs "Don't Ask Again" and "Something to Cry About" delve into the darker side of the emotional spectrum, and in "It Takes a Lifetime," we travel with Helen into true tragedy. Whatever the feeling, Helen helps us feel it.