Roo Panes released his third album Quiet Man on June 15th. Panes has a strong following – I gather his first two albums clocked up 160 million listens on Spotify and 13 million views on video channels. His music is thoughtful, quiet even, and to be heard at its best probably needs to be listened to in the quiet of night or at a gig where the audience is listening mellowly.
The opening track, for example, “A Message To Myself”, takes the best part of a minute of gentle introduction before Panes’ vocal kicks in – a warm voice, whispering its vocal in a mixture of baritone and high pitch. The remaining tracks follow a similarly twilight introduction – instruments pared down, vocal slow and thoughtful.
There is a lyric book with the CD (the lyrics can be hard to discern at times) from which you can read Panes’ wide range of imagery. Musically, at times, I’m reminded of the Fleet Foxes’ first album, at others of the choral nature of some church music. My favourite track is ‘Ophelia’ with echoes of Shakespeare’s imagery “The fallen leaves made an amber sea/Over which you floated like an autumn breeze” but a more positive conclusion “There’s a world that needs what you’ve got to give”.
Overall, the production is clear, the music is tight, the vocals are quietly strong. Maybe I’m the wrong generation, or maybe my life is currently too busy for such meditative music, but although I can understand why Panes has such a popular following, I can’t feel it.
The link below is to the official video ‘A Message To Myself’. Have a listen for yourself – but do it when you’ve got time. The album is titled ‘Quiet Man’ and, as WH Davies said many years ago, this is a poor life if “we have no time to stand and stare”.
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‘A Message To Myself’ – official video: