Review: "Giving Tree" - dalloway
“Giving Tree” by dalloway and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein both vastly reflect on the dangers of a one-sided relationship, and serve as a cautionary tale for all to not be taken advantage of by others. dalloway utilizes the same metaphor that Silverstein used almost 60 years ago to tell the story of a former relationship where she felt used by her partner, feeling like her partner took all of her branches. The song is loaded with metaphors, and you can pick out a new metaphor each time you listen. She starts off the song with a haunting introduction, saying she was minding her business and tiptoeing around the mud. The mud is clearly a metaphor for something that is visually bad but easy to fix, but she didn’t see the quicksand, which is much more dangerous. dalloway says that her ex paints himself as the victim, saying he’s “looking for a cut but it’s someone else’s blood.” This implies that her ex was always looking for sympathy that he doesn’t deserve at the expense of someone else. After the introduction ends, the vibe of the song shifts, and dalloway asks “how does your garden bloom” since “it’s full of poison apples.” Then she starts to attack her own flaws, saying that she has a savior complex and gets too close to people too fast. The chorus of the song has the same lyrics as the introduction but with a much heavier vibe. After the ending of the chorus, dalloway introduces the metaphor seen in The Giving Tree. She says that her ex cut off all her branches and knows that she shouldn’t have let it happen, since she believes “something’s wrong with [her].” The most memorable and clever lyric in the song is “I hand out second chances / It’s always Halloween”, comparing giving out second chances to giving out Halloween candy. After dalloway repeats the chorus once more, she says her partner is grabbing a shovel and her roots are deep, but the song abruptly ends with her distorted vocals. The song ends that way because her partner has gone so far as to rip up her roots, essentially ending her life.
dalloway starts off the song with a reading of an Alice in Wonderland lyric, and immediately takes a dark turn as the backing track begins. The first 30 seconds of the song are dark and haunting, with a heavy kick and snare. Her vocal line consists mostly of minor 3rds, adding even more to the haunting feel. But after the intro and the first real verse begins, the song takes a lighter turn, with dalloway’s vocals sounding like a nursery rhyme. Between the verse and the chorus, there is a massive build. The strong bass synth drives the chorus, which gives new meaning to the same words that were used in the introduction. The distortion and the ad-libs in the chorus give it a dark, edgy feel that was shocking on the first listen. The song uses unique production techniques that set apart “Giving Tree” from the rest, such as the ticking of a clock that separates each section of the song, which implies that her time is running out. After the final chorus, the backing track is reduced to the ticking noise and a few notes from a synth. The outro, which abruptly cuts off dalloway’s vocals, is surprising on the first listen. But after analyzing the lyrics and the overall sound of the backing track, it’s clear that the ending signifies her “death” as a giving tree.
dalloway, although a relatively new and small artist, packs a punch that sets her above the rest in the singer-songwriter scene. Mary-Cait (MC) Hentz chose the stage name “dalloway” as a nod to her favorite novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. She has spent her whole life immersed in music, whether that be in school musicals, voice lessons, or a collegiate acapella group. But, it wasn’t until 2022 with her debut single “phases” that she entered the music business. She’s inspired by her experiences with chronic illness, neurodivergence, queerness, mental illness, and morbid curiosity to write. With one EP under her belt and a second one forthcoming, dalloway has proved herself to be an outstanding musician, and one to watch out for in the future.
Written By Lauren DiGiovanni