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Iain Archer - To The Pine Roots

Iain Archer, To The Pine Roots

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

IAIN Archer’s latest album was conceived and recorded in a cottage by the Black Forest. That may go some way to explaining the chilled out vibe it gives off.

To The Pine Roots is an ethereal collection of acoustic-based songs that are tender in delivery, and lovingly crafted.

Just occasionally, you wish he could pick up the pace but there’s no denying the intimate nature of the songwriting, or the intricate layering of the instruments that adds an age-old harmonium here, and a Celtic influence there, to augment the acoustic guitar that’s constantly at the forefront.

When Archer gets the mix just right, too, there’s a very real beauty to his songwriting that’s both romantic and poignant at the same time.

The hazy recollections of his own childhood are at the forefront of one highlight, Black Mountain Quarry, while album opener The Acrobat provides a metaphor-heavy, yet beautiful introduction to what to expect.

Archer’s voice, meanwhile, is at its most fragile on the achingly tender Frozen Lake, a sparse piece of romantic songwriting that’s gradually augmented by both harmonium and strings. It’s the sort of track to surprise the one you love with, over a candelit meal, or a night of chat by the fire.

A song like Streamer On A Kite, meanwhile, recalls the brilliance of some of Archer’s acoustic contemporaries such as Josh Pyke and Jack Johnson – and rates among the more playful and upbeat songs on the album.

Archer himself says of the album that many of the lyrics stem from a restlessness he has carried from his formative years in the Northern Irish seaside town of Bangor.

“There’s a certain sort of separateness,” he explains. “And I think that’s why when you’re a teenager there you have a real sense of wanting to escape, to anywhere else.”

Listening to Archer’s To The Pine Roots, it’s easy to escape to a very contented place. It’s a beautifully understated collection of songs that are really worth checking out.

Download picks: The Acrobat, Black Mountain Quarry, Frozen Lake, Streamer On A Kite

Track listing:

  1. The Acrobat
  2. Songbird
  3. Black Mountain Quarry
  4. Hey Mia, Don’t Be Lonely
  5. Everest
  6. Frozen Lake
  7. Streamer On A Kite
  8. To Mend And Move Along
  9. The Nightwatchman