‘Tales of the Ancestors’ - Ian Rooke - songs that makes their point(August 04, 2014)
Some concept albums ‘hit it’ many don’t. Highly personal albums ‘connect’ or leave you cold. An album that combines both concept and personal history walks a fine line and needs to be exceptional to connect. Well, wearing my ‘brutally honest’ hat, ‘Tales of the Ancestors’ by Ian Rooke, cannot be classed as exceptional, but it does engage and it does hit the target.
‘Tales of the Ancestors’ relates the story of Ian’s 19th century, three times great grandmother, chronicles a tough life and pays homage to her adventurous spirit. Through a collection of highly personal, subjective accounts a single yearning voice expounds the stories with laid back, sombre vocals and simple finger-picked guitar. The essence of these songs is a connected narrative that runs from an abusive partnership in England to a re-birth in the New World of America.
The EP opens with ‘When My Ship Comes In’ – in many ways a typical English folk song with ‘one-man-and-guitar’ telling a human tale, with the attraction of meaningful lyrics. From there, the songs become increasingly intimate in their outlook – the remorseful ‘Stoke a Fire’, the moving sadness of ‘New World’ and ‘Other Side of the World’, which hints at understanding the separation of distance. Finishing the EP with ‘Closing Time’ the narrative comes up-to-date reflecting that passing time actually changes little.
Ian Rooke writes lyrics with bite, tunes with hooks and songs with obvious sentiment. All things considered, songs that make their point and make it well. As I said earlier, ‘Tales of the Ancestors’ connects and to be frank as a songwriter what more could you ask?
Reviewer: Charlie Elland