Review of Iain Archer's album To The Pine Roots.
Iain Archer, a Northern Irish Boy from Bangor, formally a lyrists for Snow Patrol, and Ivor Novello Award Winner for Snow Patrols Final Straw Album brings us his new album To The Pine Roots. So without delay, Songbird and Streamer on a Kite both have trademark melodic Irish Folk strumming and melody, with someone pounding on a Bodhran, now that's pronounced bow-rahn, and is a traditional Irish Drum that is the staple of Irish music, I'm most familiar with it having done my time working in Irish pubs! Black Mountain Quarry is more of an Anglican Folk feel to it, similar to a slow song from someone like Show of Hands, just less produced and big sounding. There is some nice choral work, conjuring up images of a Virgin Choir wandering about in their white chiffon dancing round the Blarney stone, particularly on To Mend and Move Along which also benefits from some harp trills and ethereal strings. Hey Mia, Don't be Lonely, is haunting and solemn, delicately placing his voice in between the steady plucking on his guitar strings. Its evident that Archer has listened and learned the music he no doubt grew up with as the traditional folk elements from his ancestry are dotted openly like Guinness stains on your mothers linen on St Paddy's day, but at times it shifts to the more American-Irish and songs like Frozen lake or The Acrobat, wouldn't seem out of place on a soundtrack to an independent film starting Zach Braff. I think that's what bothers me about this album. I am a little tired of hearing little love songs from men that seem to have no balls. I mean come on, women love to see that men have emotions but sometimes it's just all a little too puffy, and frankly there's only so much room in the world for it. Love is a tired concept musically, nothing much hasn't been said before, and strumming a pretty guitar riff and evoking an emotional vocal rendition of lyrics slathered in self pity, served with a healthy dose of the pathetic and downtrodden is getting a tad tired. Everest falls into this category as well, it can't help coming across slightly lazy in its arrangement and too simplistic in its sentiment. The harrowing uplifting key change ending, the more aggressive and assertive strumming taking the emotion home. Yawn. I am a sucker for heartfelt finger picking like that found all over Cat Stevens Tea for the Tilerman but even that masterpiece has its time and its place.
This album is by no means a failure, it is homely and warm but I'm not that chuffed about the overall sense of feeling sorry for him. Granted he has been involved with Snow Patrol so he does deserve some of our pity. OK he has won and Ivor Novello for his work with them, but that doesn't cut it with me. The solo stuff is different to that with Snow Patrol but for much for the same reasons I didn't like their stuff, I don't feel anything but non responsive. Snow Patrol seemed to have managed to get their stuff as soundtracks to movies or heart wrenching episodes of Sitcoms and I feel that Archer has gone down that root a little, rather than to the pine roots. Shame!