Review Archive

‘Stripped to the Bone’ from Ian Rooke - taking a different route to get there

(May 19, 2015)

There’s a radical change of direction for Ian Rooke with his album ‘Stripped to the Bone’ – a course that leads away from the ‘man-with-guitar’ format into a far more comprehensively instrumented and deftly produced offering. The move has also taken his music further from what could easily be called folk music. Depending on the eclecticism of your musical outlook there are folk elements but they surround songs moving into a darker stripped bare album cover 001side of narrative and expression. There’s a level of experimentation with song construction, electronics and the inclusion of modern effects, which may or may not alienate some of his followers.

The theme of the album, dealing with mental illness, makes levels of alienation a key subject, with songs that examine tough issues, and Rooke’s vocals ensure the listener ‘lives’ every moment. ‘Gentleman Jim and Mr Jack’ tackles the effects of alcoholism and through a wave of sound effects and echoing vocals emphasises its point, ‘Stripped to the Bone’ offers simpler instrumentation as it reveals the terrors of an anxiety attack, while ‘Things Fall Apart’ poignantly portrays pain and acceptance. With its brutal frankness ‘Looking Glass’ tackles the confusion and blackness of depression, and through ‘Nothing at All’ the terror of violence and physical abuse pours out of every note.

By any measure this is not an easy-listen, as Rooke uses a range of musical techniques at his disposal to emphasise the experiences of the narratives. Then again, the subjects are bound to hit hard. Through these songs Rooke still displays his lyrical ability to make a point and punch it home, they just take a different route to get there. Find Ian Rooke here:

Review: Tim Carroll

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