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It can be a rare thing to come across a solely acoustic offering with as much zesty flavour as what Josh Roxton and Herman Vercuiel have created with their debut LP “Slightly Ajar”. The folk-rock duo, who perform under the bilingual stage name, Roxton Met Herki, expertly combine vocal layers, guitar foundations and heady percussive craftsmanship alongside emotive lyrics to produce this 15-track album which exuberantly explores the the subtleties of life.
Clarified guitar and sly drips of percussion open it on ‘Cliffs and Faces’, while languid vocals wrap around ‘Alters’. The latter track gathers its power and progresses from a ballad-esque cruise to a half-frenzied, abounding conclusion as Roxton lilts “It’s hard to say if I’m learning to breathe/ or the breathing is learning me.”
‘Got To Move’ is peppered in snatches of earthy tones and woody percussion, but it’s ‘The Owl and the Tree’ which truly epitomises the heart of the album. Fluttering guitar work provides a deft and captivating opening melody, while beautifully allegorical lyrics form the sparkling centrepiece of the multi-textural 6-minute track, “Lady, are we cut from the same cloth/ fabric of cosmic dust and moving thought.” It’s a love song of sorts, which sings as much to a woman as it does to the world at large.
‘Pierce the Veil’ takes a cheerful dig at negative people, while ‘The Sun’ incorporates baritone vocal rhythm and rather more rock-driven melody to injected a bit of power into the LP. For the most part the theme lies simply in the nuances of life, as each song explores a series of emotive crests and troughs. ‘Sister Lake’ is an ode to the world, as visceral lyrics play homage to the earth and urge humanity to “take just a little less” from it. Following suit, “Mamma Gaia” is rivetingly bass driven and wholly African.
‘Wild Spirit’ is exuberantly feel-good, peppered in peaks and acoustic drops, likely inspired by the Garden Route backpackers of the same name. ‘Sipping Gold’ is a stylish ode to over-indulgent youth and a conciously stepping away from toxic habits, while ‘City of Rust’ closes the album with static-infused, baritone vocals and and powerful low-tone melody. There is something of a comfortable familiarity to their sound which, instead of putting them into an over-saturated bracket, plants them firmly on their own four feet.
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Listen to “Slightly Ajar” below.