“a forward-moving tune that recalls the likes of Chris Thile and Madison Cunningham.” – PopMatters
TUCSON (May 31, 2022) – In anticipation of Father’s Day on June 19, Tucson husband-wife folk duo, RISO, announces the release of the self-titled track, “New Eyes,” on June 14. It’s off the upcoming album, New Eyes, due out July 15. Written shortly before members Matt Rolland and Rebekah Sandoval Rolland became parents for the first time, the song is a letter to their daughter, encompassing some of the most significant memories and experiences of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
Rebekah says, “We did a bit of free-writing individually to jot down some of the stories that our parents and grandparents have shared that have stuck with us, and we took the best of those and put them into the song.” In the first verse, Matt writes about the stars on his childhood ceiling and rocking their baby to sleep in her room for the first time. In the second verse, Matt writes about his Dad’s memories of coming to Arizona for the first time and being overwhelmed by the smell of orange blossoms, which is very characteristic of Tucson and Phoenix in the spring. A wistful reminder about how weightless the world is when you’re a kid, the final verse is about their childhood memories–Rebekah’s in Montana and Matt’s in Colorado, where they spent summers. That verse reflects how the last two years have forced a continual reckoning with the radical change in how day-to-day lives are conducted and how the earliest memories can be turned into experiences for a sense of comfort and stability.
The lyric “New Eyes” feels like an encapsulation of many of the stories and themes on the record and feels relevant to the fact that the whole world is reemerging from the events of the last two years and entering into a new reality with renewed perspective. This track speaks to that collective experience and the duo’s individual histories. Rebekah says, “We both tend to look back nostalgically, aching for a time when we had the freedom to tour for weeks at a time, spontaneously hop on a plane to a new place, spend a day in the studio without lining up childcare, head out at dawn for a trail run along the bike path near our house. As new parents, life has a different rhythm now, but it’s no less dynamic. It’s just different–the challenges and limitations are different; the pace is different; it’s more stationary and we’ve fallen into more consistent routines, which, ultimately, we really love. We’re adjusting to it, and striving to still find creative inspiration on the day to day.”
Matt says, “Music has always been a social experience for me – bands, jamming, orchestras, teaching, sharing. Becoming a father, that social aspect of music takes on a whole new character. Every rehearsal, every record, and radio playlist on the speakers, and even moments in the studio are something I’m experiencing with a new person. She’s absorbing those experiences and so far, she seems to love it. She’s an audience of one. The world became a more magical place when she learned to clap.”
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 year’s best local albums. 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.
8/12 191 Toole, Tucson, AZ (Album Release Show)
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