By: Mike Breen
Royal Holland Issues First EP
Volume One – The Maze is the first official release from Royal Holland, the pseudonym/current project of Cincinnati singer/songwriter Matt Mooney, former frontman of late local Indie Rock band Koala Fires. The EP is available now at royalholland.bandcamp.com and will be celebrated with a free, 9 p.m. release party Thursday at Northside Tavern (northside-tavern.com). State Song and umin also perform.
The EP is a compelling introduction to Royal Holland’s unique sound, a mix of acoustic guitar, enchanting melodies and harmonies, rolling live drums and danceable drum-machine beats, electronic additives and, at its essence, spectacular songwriting. The music is self-described as “dreamy synth folk,” which is as good of a description as any, though it may conjure up images of Bob Dylan fronting Erasure, something it definitely doesn’t resemble.
Instead, the writing is more akin to Royal Holland’s avowed “heroes” like Jeff Mangum, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, occasionally using some classic Folk music attributes but never becoming beholden to any genre’s limitations. The “synth” elements manifest themselves in tasteful electronic adornment that is subtle and never distracting from the songwriting’s impact. The EP’s five songs would all stand by themselves magnificently, but the light ornamentation gives Royal Holland’s approach an airy swirl of intrigue.
The fantastic lyrics also take Volume One – The Maze to another level. Just as the songs would stand tall delivered with just a guitar and vocals, the words are pure poetry, even separate from the music. “I’ve been sleeping all day/Trying to dream up some kind of way/That my arms could grow around you like a tree/Steady and strong/As the years tack worries on/You could lay them all on me/As my limbs creak in the breeze/The leaves would fall like silver in your hair” from EP closer “Twin Rivers” (featuring ex-Seedy Seed Margaret Darling on harmony vocals and accordion) is just one example of the EP’s exceptional lyrical content.
Following the EP release show, Royal Holland will pick up his already busy touring schedule, with plans to release two more EPs early next year (to be compiled on vinyl for a later release) and then a full-length album. (royalhollandsongs.com)