For Scattered Trees, Sympathy is a labor of love that almost didn't happen. The band grew up together in the outskirts of Chicago, playing music together in various groups over the years. They became a family in more ways than one, with some of the members sharing last names -albeit for different reasons. Scattered Trees became a staple of Chicago clubs, but as time passed, the band's members were drawn to various parts of the country. Scattered Trees as a band looked all but over. And then, tragedy struck. Lead singer Nate Eiesland's father passed away, and while mourning, Nate picked up his guitar again and started penning a record dedicated to his memory. Those songs became Sympathy.
The album is a focused, deeply personal collection of songs that finds Scattered Trees experimenting with lush multi-part harmonies, constructing dynamic builds, and exploring the intricacies of love and loss. Opening with "Bury the Floors," Nate sings "It's the house that I built you to fall / We started to walk then we stood up to crawl / So bury the floors and burn down the walls / to find ourselves by morning." Driving rock epics like "Four Days Straight" rub shoulders with melancholic elegies like "Where You Came From." The album's title track starts with a stripped-down plaintive mandolin, ultimately fading into a slow-burning orchestral groove. Melting into "Five Minutes," Scattered Trees continues the build until the track bursts forth. The band rounds out the record with the mournful acoustic closer "On Your Side," a fitting tribute for a deeply heartfelt and therapeutic album.
The band officially called it quits in August 2012, but have preserved their friendships. Three fifths of them—Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing—would go on together to form new indie-pop outfit ON AN ON.