Matt and Rebekah Rolland are RISO, and ‘Closer’ is their new, forward-driving single. The Tucson-based artists are a power duo both in roots music and in love—they met as children in the Arizona Fiddle Contest and eventually became wed, with years of artistic collaboration between them in projects like their award-winning sibling bluegrass ensemble, Run Boy Run. As fresh parents, the duo use ‘Closer’ as an opportunity to reflect on their days turned in as working musicians. Narratively, it’s nostalgic but forward-looking—a nod to the ebb and flow that they have experienced as artists sifting from the younger freedoms of a burgeoning tour schedule to the realities of how their world has changed in the face of both parenthood and an ongoing global pandemic.
‘Closer’ is a neat initial preview of RISO’s forthcoming album, New Eyes (15 July). It thrives in dualities, such as in its aforementioned reflective, yet forward-looking nature. This plays out musically, too, with a stirring guitar riff laying the foundation for a hearty rhythmic sense beneath its melodic base. Vocals are a literal ebb and flow, cascading around Rebekah’s lead with both she and Matt’s harmonies. They rouse in a way not unfamiliar from grand folk contemporaries, but find a middle ground between their respective influences and personal experiences in the whole to make something fresh and exciting. Here, the track’s adroit arrangement will recall a looming mysticism that’s also been felt from the likes of I’m With Her.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm