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Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: The Roans - Ebb [EP]

The Roans - Ebb [EP]
2010, The Roans

Singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Nate Gullickson moved from his home in Montana to Seattle in 2007 to find a music community more attuned his musical style. Gullickson's brand of ethereal and psychedelic folk/pop made Gullickson a lot friends in the music scene; friends who encouraged Gullickson to marry his instrumental creations to lyrics. Gullickson concentrated his efforts, and the resulting songs gave birth to The Roans. On April 15, 2010, The Roans will release their debut EP, Ebb, featuring four original compositions and a lot of ambient ear candy for listeners with the patience and appreciation for a different sound.

Ebb opens with "Fireside", a mellow musical hors d'oeuvre with a mellow, psychedelic feel. Gullickson has a pleasant voice that occasionally loses its footing on Mt. Pitch but conveys a bright and care free approach even as it circles lyrical dark waters. "You Tried (I Tried)" is full of mournful complacency. Gullickson explores the ending of a relationship in terms of acceptance that seems nearly listless. The authentic nature of the lyrics gains points, but there's little artistry in the story line, where everything is black and white and nothing's left to ponder. "Soft Forest" has a dreamy quality created by the blending of guitar and reverb. The Roans will remind those familiar with Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies keyboardist both vocally and in compositional style. The Roans really hit their stride here with a blending of ambient and psychedelic styles that overlays significant internal energy and struggle with an ethereal musical frosting that never really sits still. Ebb slinks back into the night with "Winter Sleep", blending lyric passages with a rhythmic intensity you might expect out of a twin bill of Dave Matthews and Rusted Root. "Winter Sleep" is a compelling listen; somnolence is overcome by the vibrant energy of life, which wells and sways until borders on controlled violence and ultimately chaos. Gullickson's voice doesn't always hold up well on the slower passages, but remains sonically pleasing even when he missteps.

Ebb is both a cornerstone and a jumping off point. Nate Gullickson explores the shallow mountain pools near the peak that beget streams, quickly moving into vibrant waters that appear placid on the surface but run deep and wide. "Winter Sleep" suggests that even as Gullickson was finding the sound on Ebb he was already beginning to envision something more; something listeners will be certain to hear when The Roans venture forth with their next project, whatever that may be. For now, Ebb is a tricky introduction that is both more and less than it seems. The Roans rely heavily on ambience and rhythm to drive compositions that are atypical in scope but sonically satisfying. The energy and angst you hear bubbling beneath the surface is an artist Becoming.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Roans at Ebb [EP] is due for release on April 15, 2010. Keep checking The Roans MySpace page for availability.

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