Fingerpicked acoustic guitar dreamscapes from France.
It has been a fascinating journey to watch Raoul Vignal reach his third album. His debut ‘The Silver Veil‘ was stunning in its soft folksy whispers. His follow up took more time for me to warm up to as Vignal moves from small but intricate arrangements to bigger band folk with ‘Oak Leaf‘. Now on his third album, ‘Years in Marble’ merges the best of both to create some of his best work to date.
What makes Raoul Vignal so fantastic is how he weaves the acoustic guitar subtly around his chord structures. He has a very clean and soft voice that can hush you to sleep at once and so pairing that up with warm, luscious acoustic guitar melodies just works. This time around, he has added in plenty of subtle electric guitar, folk instruments, keys and more percussion than usual. With ‘Oak Leaf’, when he took the band effort, he didn’t take all of his intricacies with him. With this album, those vibrant arpeggio hooks are lock, stock and barrel.
This means that if he wants to rock out like Sea Wolf on ‘To Bid the Dog Goodbye’, he absolutely can in a shimmer of folk-rock. If he wants to get jazzier with keys and hazy electric guitar solos like on ‘Heart of the Lake’, that’s there too. More chunky acoustic rock tracks are placed upfront in the album. ‘City Birds’, ‘Century Man’ and ‘Coastal Town’ all remind me a little of C Duncan’s early work but with some really understated guitar chops hiding in the mix. The music may sound soft and rosy but that acoustic guitar is going at a real pace to support the song structures. It is a clever playoff.
Dreamy fingerpicked folk ditties are here too. They are Raoul Vignal’s bread and butter. ‘By a Thread’ is creamy and rich with guitars and synths to make you melancholy. The gentle romance of Hawaiian styled guitars and thumb guitar taps for drums makes ‘Moonlit Visit’ a beautiful state of being. Enjoying the darker side of Raoul’s work is ‘Red Fresco’. This acoustic roll feels like a build-up to a cowboy showdown in all the good ways. Indeed, this album feels dusty and cloudy at the same time.
I adore ‘Years in Marble’. I went on a little sunny forest park walk with this album playing in the background. The two combined was absolute perfection. This is an album designed for Spring and Summer laziness and stretches. Raoul Vignal has done it again – a beautiful album chock full of understated excellence. Bravo.
Recommended track: Century Man
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