There’s plenty could make folks a little wary of Roo Panes’ quick rise over the recent months. Half a million YouTube views is more than impressive, but then it was in large part fuelled by his link-up with a well-known fashion house and an impromptu role as a model on their latest advertising campaign. Roo had been impressed by the work Burberry had done with Johnny Flynn on his videos and wanted in. He fired off a quick letter, and got back more than he bargained for.
But we’re not here to worry about how Roo came to the world’s attention, only what he plans to do with it. We’re told his musical education came in part from his grandmother, a classical concert pianiest, in part from the hymns of his local church, and in part from his parents’ collection of Bob Dylan and Nick Drake records. Listening to his record, it’s not easy to figure out which made the greater impression, but Roo is not your standard singer-songwriter.
Since being signed up to compose a soundtrack for Burberry’s campaign, he’s filled out his sound with an array of instruments that make their mark all over this debut EP. The guitars and mandolins are all but drowned out by the strings at times as ‘Know Me Well’ and ‘Open Road’ introduce the record in grand, sweeping style. It’s orchestral but also plenty playful too, Roo using the strings to add heft but not in an overly serious way – it’s a fine balance. You can go back to YouTube and find the originals of these songs, and quickly learn that the addition of the extra instrumentation has taken Roo’s sound to another, much higher level. Having been given a grand platform from which to announce his talent, this EP suggests he has the goods to back it up.