Roo Panes - Paperweights (B)

This album came out earlier in the month, and though it’s literally the album I’ve listened to the most over the last month (go ahead, check my last.fm account), I was struggling to find a way to approach the review. Initially I wrote something very personal. I know, you’re confused, but beneath my menacing and badass exterior is a kind hearted and gentle man. I know I know, you all instantly want to know me better (“Come in! And know me better man!”). Well…too bad. BACK 2 BADASS 4 ME. In short, I found it difficult to be objective when reviewing this album as I enjoy and appreciate Roo on such a personal level. During a time when I was feeling confused and a bit numb, I came across his Land of the Living EP, which had just been released. His sound was so light and calming, and his words consumed me, molding my heart and mind, ultimately sending me in a very different direction then I was headed. It’s a testament to the power of music, or rather art in general, and its ability to transform, if you’re willing to let it. Since then he’s been as constant a companion as I’ve had the last few years. 

His first album, Little Giant, was simultaneously great and decent. He had released several EPs prior, and over half of Little Giant had tracks that came from them. This is a common theme with artists, but it doesn’t sit well with me. As someone who listened to those EPs over and over I had become accustomed to that order in which the songs were played, so when those songs are mixed around with a handful of new tracks the album turns into something choppy. Now, if you’re someone who wasn’t familiar with him before that album then you probably loved it, as you should, all the songs are great! It was just a matter of flow, and my familiarity with his work cost me in that regard. Ultimately though, it’s my connection to his sound and the atmosphere he creates that I crave, and I would highly suggest familiarizing yourself with all of his releases.

But enough about the past, let’s talk about the present. Let’s talk about Paperweights. It’s beautiful; and superior to Little Giant in every way. I’ve written and rewritten this review so many times, trying to find the words to adequately describe the effect his seemingly simple sound has on me. His way with words affects me like few artists can, whether it’s his ever present hope or his ability to convey the complexities of the heart in a poetic way. It’s no simple task, offering wisdom to the masses, without sounding preachy, yet he does it with confidence and grace. His growth is noticeable across the board, bringing to the table a maturation both lyrically and musically. “Vanished Into Everything,” which deals with a great loss, is structured perfectly, starting off with just his guitar, then building the sound gorgeously with strings, but without overpowering the message. Or the way he adds depth to his sound by blending his humming with his instrumental on “Lullaby Love,” and a few other tracks, a subtle addition that makes a huge difference. In his opening track “Stay With Me” he conveys what I felt through the entire album, “Stay with me // You’re right where you’re supposed to be.” His voice, his lyrics, and his sound, all built to draw you in, to sooth and comfort. Whether it’s a drive into the mountains or you’re stuck in traffic in the city, there is a place for Roo. The weight of his sound is in his heart, and his heart is on full display. Next time you’re alone, put Paperweights on and open yourself up to it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.