“…a slice of folk perfection…with its wonderful layering of instruments, it’s a full 10 out of 10 on the musical beauty scale.” -Jonathan Aird, Americana UK
TUCSON (May 6, 2022) – Tucson husband-wife folk duo, RISO, announces the release of their single, “Closer,” on May 19. It’s off the upcoming album, New Eyes, due out July 15. Beauty and tension intertwine in an ebb of flow of longing. As the world embraces freedom again, the song looks back at a time before restrictions when loved ones were separated by work and travel.
RISO members Matt Rolland and Rebekah Sandoval Rolland spent most of their 20s either far apart, living in different cities, or on the road touring. The imagery and scenes in “Closer” reflect on a period that Matt lived and studied in Oaxaca, MX, when Rebekah went down to visit him once. Rebekah reminisces, “I have really fond memories of that trip, but it was punctuated by these really painful moments of remembering that I would go back home and we’d be apart again, and we didn’t have a sense of when or if we’d be together in the same place again. It’s been interesting to reflect on the freedom at this time in our lives in every way imaginable. We had the freedom to move from place to place, which we took for granted then, but which was impossible when the world was on lockdown during the pandemic, which has become much harder now that we’re parents.”
The story is brought to life with an intimate interaction between two guitars conversing with layered vocals, swelling fiddles, and crescendos of amplified guitar. Their good friend and longtime musical collaborator Thøger Lund, best known for his bass contributions in the Tucson band Giant Sand, joined them to add pulsing upright bass reminiscent of a heartbeat. An unexpected French Horn joins the chorus at the end, an instrument that has long moved Matt and Rebekah and has signaled changes of seasons throughout much of Western civilization.
For New Eyes, RISO has come full circle, a culmination of a musical lifetime spent together – the album is a document of the ebb and flow of the last decade of their lives as students, musicians, and, more recently, parents.
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.
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 piano; 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.
New Eyes Track Listing
- Someday I’ll Take You Home
- Caterpillar Prince
- Penny Brown
- Doesn’t Stand to Reason
- Always Running
- In the Maze
- Geometric Slide
- New Eyes
- You’ll Never Be the Sun
Matt Rolland and Rebekah Sandoval Rolland 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 International Acoustic Music Awards have recognized Rebekah’s songwriting. Her last record, Seed & Silo, which Matt co-produced, was in the top three of PopMatters’ Best Folk Albums of the Year. Tucson Weekly also named it one of the best local albums of the year. Their other project, Run Boy Run, won support from Folk Alley, The Bluegrass Situation, and Acoustic Guitar.
The partnership led them through many musical projects over the years, but none more fully the both of them than RISO.
5/13 Berger Performing Arts Center, Tucson, AZ
8/12 191 Toole, Tucson, AZ
8/23 Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, Peoria, AZ
1/8-1/15 Artist in Residence at Elkhorn Ranch, Tucson, AZ
Praise for Past Projects
“When I hear Run Boy Run, it all comes back to me, why I started doing that show back then. I hope they go on forever.” – Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
“Harmonies, strings, and a respect for heartfelt storytelling” – The Bluegrass Situation
“One of the top ten Arizona bands to hear now, Run Boy Run is becoming a prevalent force in the desert music scene.” – Adam Vitcanage, Paste Magazine
“…a slice of folk perfection…with its wonderful layering of instruments, it’s a full 10 out of 10 on the musical beauty scale.” –Jonathan Aird, Americana UK
“Their delicately crafted music hits all of the right marks.” – PopMatters
“If you’re a music fan that appreciates artists who color outside the lines, I think you’ll enjoy the record. There is a lot to explore and hear and see and after listening to it a few times, you come away feeling a bit more enlightened.” –Shawn Underwood, Twangville
“…Rolland’s spirited heart is unrelenting. The way in which she so passionately delivers these authentic slices of folk storytelling makes for some of the most compelling listening from out of the roots world so far this year.” -Jonathan Frahm, For Folk’s Sake