music

New Eyes

For New Eyes, Arizona folk music powerhouses Matt Rolland and Rebekah Sandoval Rolland have come full circle. Their band, RISO, is the culmination of a musical lifetime spent together – and the album is a document of the ebb and flow of the last decade of their lives as students, musicians, and, more recently, parents.

 

They met as kids at the Arizona State Fiddle Contest, which Rebekah’s grandfather organized for many years. Matt was a frequent contestant in Payson, and both of them grew up in family bands, playing the Arizona bluegrass and acoustic festival circuit. When they both ended up at the University of Arizona, they started a band. The partnership led them through many musical projects over the years, but none more fully the both of them than RISO.

 

Matt and Rebekah bring very different influences to the table despite their shared culture, and the interplay is on full display on New Eyes. Matt’s history as a contest fiddle player in the Texas and bluegrass styles shows itself in nimble, quick melodic lines. Rebekah’s fascination with old-time music comes out in speech-driven, “crooked” rhythms and unexpected phrasing. Matt introduced Rebekah to pop influences like the Shins and Iron and Wine; Rebekah fell in love with another band they listened to two decades ago, Crooked Still, and that affair has continued unbroken. From the Latin word for “smile” or “laughter,” RISO synthesizes that push and pull. It embraces an old-time aesthetic that seems to emanate from the very bones of the earth yet incorporates pop flourishes and sometimes complex arrangements to get the message across.

 

The album feels like the natural growth of an old tradition, flourishing into something new. Rebekah’s voice has a heartbreaking clarity and grace, traveling seamlessly between filigrees of a dreamy springtime delicacy and crescendos of strength. There is an innocence to it that makes the weight of her words hit all the stronger. Matt’s sure hand gives rise to it, responding to every nuance and cradling the sound with sometimes surprising textures – like a 60s psychedelic guitar jangle or French horn coming through the acoustic pop. His original instrumental tunes buoy the album forward, melding influences from Celtic, old-time, and bluegrass traditions.

 

The songs will break your heart and fix it again. From the wistful “Geometric Slide” to the jaunty “Caterpillar Prince,” from the ominous and smoky “Always Running” to the budding of desire in “Closer,” these are songs of innocence and of experience (to borrow from Blake).

 

Matt and Rebekah summoned formidable friends to help with the project. Arthur Vint (credits include Postmodern Jukebox) provides the drums; Ryan David Green (Ryanhood) contributes electric guitar; Steff Koeppen (Steff and the Articles; Copeland) is on keyboard; Thøger Lund (Giant Sand) plays bass; Ben Plotnick (The Fretless, Oliver the Crow, and Atwood Quartet) and Kaitlyn Raitz (Oliver the Crow and Atwood Quartet) wrote several of the string arrangements and played fiddle and cello respectively. The album was engineered by Tucson stalwarts Peter Dalton Ronstadt and Steven Lee Tracy and mixed by Philip Shaw Bova (Father John Misty, Lake Street Dive, Feist). But such a team of captains – most lead their own bands – never overshadows the wit and heart of the Rollands. RISO is their love letter to you. -Robert Lopez-Hanshaw

 

released July 15, 2022

Produced by Matt Rolland and Rebekah Rolland 

Recorded by Peter Dalton Ronstadt at Jim Brady Recording Studios (Tucson, AZ)

Additional tracking by Steven Tracy at St. Cecilia Studios and Matt Rolland and Kevin Larkin at CATALYST Arts Space

Mixing and Mastering by Philip Shaw Bova 

Album Design and Photography by Aubreigh Brunschwig

 

RISO is:

Rebekah Rolland - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, String Arrangements

Matt Rolland - Harmony Vocals, Acoustic / Electric / 12 String Guitars, Mandolin, Violin

 

With special appearances by:

Thoger Lund - Upright Bass

Arthur Vint - Percussion

Ben Plotnick - Violin, Viola, String Arrangements (Track 3, 4, 5, 7)

Kaitlyn Raitz - Cello (Track 4, 5)

Ryan David Green - Electric Guitar, Harmony Vocal (Track 6)

Steff Koeppen - Piano (Track 2, 4, 6)

All songs administered by Modern Works Publishing/“A” Side Music LLC

Walk With Me

Walk With Me is the debut single of Tucson-based acoustic duo, RISO, featuring Matt and Rebekah Rolland.

 

From the artists: "Walk With Me" is our first official RISO release, but it's an older tune of ours that’s been sitting there in the archives since the early days. It traces back to a season we spent traveling through the Southeast and on to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and then to Mexico City, where we lived for a spell. Rebekah began writing it in our Santa Maria la Ribera apartment and finished it in the months after we’d moved back and were missing D.F. We hope it takes you to a place of peace, familiarity, and comfort in a time when, collectively, we’re finding our bearings and looking for the good in each day. “The moon’s sinking fast now—keeping time with the sun." All release proceeds from this single will be donated to Prevention Institute, a phenomenal organization doing vital work on behalf of minority communities throughout the U.S. 

 

released June 19, 2020

Produced by Rebekah Rolland and Matt Rolland

Audio Engineering by Matt Rolland
Mixing and Mastering by Philip Shaw Bova
Music & Lyrics by Rebekah Sandoval Rolland © 2018 De Folk Publishing/BMI Administered by Modern Works Publishing/“A” Side Music LLC
Recorded at Catalyst Collaborative Arts & Maker Space in Tucson, AZ.

Musicians:
Rebekah Rolland - Vocals
Matt Rolland - Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Fiddle
Thoger Lund - Upright Bass

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