Roo Panes soars on new album Quiet Man

Quiet ManSeveral years ago, Roo Panes took a leaf out of Johnny Flynn's book on exposure, to pave the way for a career in music. In 2012 his chiselled jaw modelled a campaign for Burberry, where Panes' contract also included recording music for Burberry Acoustic. Who could find a sweeter deal than that on the table of any boardroom meeting? But that was 2012 and having successfully conquered the famous exigency with his second album Paperweights in 2016; for which Panes blinded his listener with acoustic beauty marooned on an island of strings, we can only hope for more of the same... And with any luck, some new sounds and directions from an artist who's unafraid to be prolific with his soulful, mellow vibes.

Ambient spine-tingling ooh's over a delicate piano is how Pane introduces himself on third album Quiet Man. Instantly striking a chord with listeners thanks to his vocal tones, which float effortlessly between Bon Iver and The National, Roo dares to go to a higher falsetto on "A Message to Myself". It's not long into the second track "My Sweet Refuge" that you hear eerie similarities in melody to The National's "Fake Empire", for what we hope is a brief tip of the hat and not a full-on album replica assault.

Fortunately, the trend doesn't continue. “Ophelia” is a raw and tender moment brought to life with rich percussion and wonderful flutters of a mandolin. Male and female harmonies collide beautifully over pensive lyrics, and the listener is swept up in the beauty of the song. A common stomping ground for Pane on Quiet Man is to build upon his opening lyrics by soothing introductions of vocal melodies, most effective when his deeper tones are balanced with a softer female touch. This creates a solid foundation throughout the standout track, “A Gift To You”.

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As the album draws to a close, there’s a little treat just off the beaten track. “Warrior” shows great musical prowess as horns intertwine with keys, and thunderous, euphoric percussion gives Roo new heights to aim for and, potentially new musical direction to explore on his next album. It really sounds like a natural step in the direction of where he should go next. But Panes wraps up the album on the familiar territory of subtle finger-pickings over choir-like vocals on “Peace Be With You”.

Where others in this field dwell heavily on melancholy, Panes' songs feel more rooted in positivity and celebrations of life. Its refreshing to hear little mutterings of lost love and failed relationships. Albeit a little too similar in places to the vocal tones of Matt Beringer, no one can deny Roo Panes any title that relates to singing falsetto. There are many moments on this record where he soars like an eagle in pursuit of his musical prey. But equally spellbinding is his deeper bass like tones. The musical canvas beneath his voice is mostly of folk finger pickings. It's only when he dares to think outside the box and offer a different pedigree of song, like “Warrior”, that the canvas ignites.

Release: 15th June 2018, CRC Records
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