thu 09/02/2023

CD: Roo Panes - Quiet Man | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Roo Panes - Quiet Man

CD: Roo Panes - Quiet Man

Designer folk that tries too hard

In Vogue, but not in the groove

There aren’t too many folk singers that make it into the pages of Vogue and Interview magazines, but that’s what comes of being a face of Burberry – attire that’s not necessarily a good folk fit. He’s also been snapped in the Augustus Hare catalogue modelling a rather sharp suit and tie. He’s studied theology, likes Bob Dylan and Nick Drake, and his favourite city is Jerusalem.

He describes himself as “a classical folk singer”. Sometimes he sounds a little like Donovan.

Quiet Man is the third outing by the Dorset-born singer-songwriter Roo Panes and it is, he says, about “contentment” and has “a general theme of encouragement”. Recorded in Devon, it is a rather new age-y sort of folk, lots of repeated motifs, carefully picked and strummed guitars and tidy double-tracking. Polite, appealing, but I’m not sure repeated listening reveals any real hidden depths – there’s rather less to it than meets the ear on first listening.

“My Narrow Road”, about the journey of a relationship, is the most arresting of the album’s 11 tracks, Panes’ vocal soaring, Rufus Wainwright-like at times, over tremolo guitar figurations. “Cub”, a song about growing up and hanging on to childhood innocence, breaks out of the sound-world, jaunty and rhythmic for a change, while “Quiet Man” builds over an acoustic guitar motif and drums propel “Warrior”, synthesized strings and organ, punctuated by brass, as Pane sings of overcoming, of the need for strength. “Peace Be With You” again combines triplet figures on acoustic guitar above a bass line that forms a nice counterpoint to the vocal line. It’s a plea for forgiveness, a sort-of prayer with lyrics drawn from the mass – as befits a theology grad.

Quiet Man is a polished album but not an exciting one. It’s samey, whereas Paperweight and, in particular, Little Giant – which boasted lots of varied textures – while sharing many Panes’ hallmarks, are more varied and musically interesting. Like Drake, it’s all a bit too introspective. You feel Panes is trying rather too hard - he's over-grooomed.

Quiet Man is a polished album but not an exciting one


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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