Original Story CityBeat.com
by Mike Breen
Earlier this summer, Newport, Ky.-based singer/songwriter Matt Mooney released the second of three planned EPs under his project named Royal Holland, Volume Two – Flamingo. Like last year’s acclaimed Volume One – The Maze (which won the Ohio Music Award for “Best Folk CD”), Flamingo was recorded locally with noted producer (and acclaimed singer/songwriter in his own right) Brian Olive.
While Mooney toured behind The Maze as a solo act, he has been performing in support of Flamingo with a full band that includes local musicians Margaret Darling (keys, vocals, percussion), Wonky Tonk (bass, vocals), Matt Retherford (drums) and, occasionally, Kendall Bruns (ukulele, vocals). Retherford and Bruns (currently based in Chicago) played with Mooney in his previous group, Koala Fires. Mooney and his Royal Holland band host a local release party for Flamingo Friday at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com). The free 9 p.m. show also includes special guests Nanny.
While Folk is a part of Royal Holland’s sound, on Flamingo Mooney toys with the boundaries of that genre tag with a sound that incorporates heavy doses of Rock and Indie Pop (the light Electronic dashes from the first EP are largely gone). Whatever you want to call it, Flamingo once again shows Mooney’s fantastic — and evolving — abilities as a songwriter. EP opener “The Grave” is a great example, as it dramatically builds from a slow-burning simmer to full bluster without ever overshadowing the strong melodic pull of the song. The track “Flamingo” follows, bouncing on a jaunty piano riff, which belies the fantastically introspective and often dark lyrics (“We pile on all of this, so we can keep forgetting/That we’re frail and ill-equipped for these lives we’re barely living”). The final two tracks, “Polaroid Blues” and “These Mundane Lives,” are two of the more straightforward “Pop Rock” songs Royal Holland has produced, though they still have a cerebral depth and compelling lyrical qualities that make a two-word description seem ridiculously inadequate.
Holland’s debut EP was fantastic, but with Flamingo, Mooney shows a growth and expansion that should make him scores of new fans.
And as Mooney continues to show his seemingly boundless range of talent, those fans should be giddy to hear what he comes up with on Royal Holland’s third EP, on which he and Olive are reportedly already working. Mooney’s one of Greater Cincinnati’s great, more underrated singer/songwriters, and as stellar as Flamingo is, it still feels like it’s only scratching the surface of what Mooney is capable of with Royal Holland.
Volume Two – Flamingo is available to preview and/or purchase at royalholland.bandcamp.com.