We in Ireland have what seems to be an insatiable appetite for the introspective and sweetly-meek songs of a troubadour, and as such we seem to produce a high volume of them. Ex-Snow Patrol man (he won an Ivor Novello with them no less) and general Lightbody-collaborator Iain Archer, from Bangor, is one such minstrel.
Recorded in a cottage in the wilds of Germany, To The Pine Roots is nine songs sung straight from the timid heart of a poet. The vocals are delivered with a tentative croak over folksy acoustic plucking and sincere-sounding strings and, depending on which side of the sensitive fence you sit on, they might combine to create a delicate and thoughtful album.
What To The Pine Roots evokes in one listener can, of course, vary greatly to the next. While many would protest that a song like -Frozen Lake’ is touching and romantic, many others would avoid its overly-saccharine fluff like the plague. For every interesting foray into new rhythmical territory (-Black Mountain Quarry’, -Songbird’) there is the bland (-Hey Mia, Don’t Be Lonely’), the over-indulgent (-Everest’ – 8 minutes long with gospel-y backing vocals) and the hurl-inducing (the aforementioned -Frozen Lake’).
Iain Archer is undoubtedly an incredibly talented guy (as evident in the guitarmanship of -The Nightwatchman’ and of course his successful career to date) and for many this album will be held in high regard. But for others it will only be mistaken for a T-Mobile ad, and they instead will turn to Nick Drake when in the mood for deep and pretty.