Occasionally I associate folk music with certain environments. Like if I think of forest folk I think of Wendy Rule, Jungle Folk is for Murray Kyle and leyline folk for Deya Dova. Now when I think of beach folk I’ll think of River Roots. Their debut album is chock full of infectious acoustic ditties that will lift your spirits.
From the outset, River Roots give you a boost with the excellent ‘Bare Feet’. Between the acoustic guitar, fiddles and the quick but organic duel vocals, its a hippy riot anthem. Gem and Matt work together and bounce off each other’s energy in a natural way. It doesn’t feel forced or over-exuberant – it just feels like two like-minded musical souls are jamming with some tequila. It even has the cheek to speed up the melody for a final hurrah. It’s perfect for jamming around the fire with friends and that tone stays throughout.
The acoustic folk roots are a constant. Whether its the tender warmth of ‘Ocean and Me’ which will catch you off-guard or the funky hipster folk of ‘Stars’ – each track feels effortless. River Roots also feels like a melting pop of culture. Whilst initially I was drawn to the Australian folk vibes of the guitars and vocals, the fiddle is ever-present and adds a rich Celtic layer to tracks. ‘Don’t Need Sleep’ draws on the American desert with its dry percussion and guitar twang whereas ‘Kundalini’ brings in the digeridoo as a bassline for the speedy jam.
Elsewhere River Roots are quite happy to compose catchy acoustic pop numbers that are rooted in folk. This means bringing in full drum kits instead of finger snaps and guitar slaps such as the catchy ‘Thank You’ – a radio hit in waiting. Vocals take centre stage in ‘Third Eye’ as when all the other instruments fade away, Gem and Matt’s vocals shine in perfect harmony together. The closing tracks tip a nod to gypsy folk with ‘Monkey Corner’, rootsy folk with ‘Instincts’ and then closes out with a gentle acoustic ballad with ‘Silent Revolution’.
River Roots is a revelation. The mixture of happy warm beach folk, Celtic fiddles and dual vocal arrangements makes a lovely layer cake of sound. I think I’ve finally found a hipster album that isn’t too cool for school but quite simply, in the state of good flow and karma. My new go-to chill out album has been found.
Recommended track: Ocean and Me
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