‘Helicopter EP’ from Ian Roland - absorbing, warm and gentle acoustic sound(April 20, 2014)
Despite the years I’ve been writing about folk music I still get an occasional surprise. Often from unknown or little known individuals writing their own songs and standing by the music they create. However, the quality of some pendulums equally between “Why am I listening to this?” and“Why haven’t I heard this before?”
I'm pleased to tell you that the ‘Helicopter EP’ from Ian Roland is both something of a surprise and falls squarely into the latter category. The surprise is because I cannot imagine why we haven’t come across this man before as Brighton isn’t exactly the dark side of the moon, where has this talent been hiding?
What does the ‘Helicopter EP’ offer? On the surface there’s an absorbing, warm and gentle acoustic sound, primarily an echoing 12-string, relaxed melodies and some interesting harmonies. Below that there’s also a strong lyrical base delivered by engaging vocals, arrayed over songs with a convincing sense of storytelling - one reason why adding the lyrics would be a blessing, I know that's difficult on EP packaging, but what about an online link?
The opening song ‘Hate’ (with a carefree melody that belies the title) evokes a jangling Byrds-esque feel complete with a potent hook, while ‘Songbirds’ has a softer, more meditative message. Many lyrics on the ‘Helicopter EP’ make references to a high-wire performer called Annie - whether real or imaginary. For example, there’s‘Got You Annie’ with a narrative moving towards slightly darker places, then the mix of fear and hope encapsulated within ‘Shooting Star’. Perhaps, you’ll hear a touch of Americana mixed with folk rock - with its strong bass and driving drums, the title track ‘Helicopter’ shows a compelling American folk influence. Nevertheless, this is fundamentally music from these islands, never anywhere else, and not a touch of a mid-Atlantic accent, which is good because Ian owns a voice that adds so much to this appealing EP.
Alongside Ian (vocals, guitars, mandolin) on the ‘Helicopter EP’ are Lee Bridges (drums) Scott Gentry (bass) and Jake Skinner (percussion). Find the 'Helicopter EP' on iTunes and Ian here: Facebook Band Page.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll