The color indigo is unique in pigment, featuring hues of inspiration across the color spectrum, while staying true to a rather dark disposition. Such is the feeling of the album released by indie pop songwriting pair Roan Yellowthorn, titled Indigo in its own right. You may recognize the last name of the band’s lyricist and lead singer, Jackie McLean, from her father, the great songwriter Don McLean. Following slowly in his footsteps, McLean and production partner Shawn Strack release their debut album with no outside assistance, honing in on their personal vulnerability and growth as songwriters.
Supporting McLean’s buzzing vocal lines are a variety of instruments, including soothing piano lines, cranked guitar chords, and interesting choices of auxiliary percussion. The title track of the album is a clear example of this, switching from a soft section to a more abrasive rock interlude, with words of inner crisis to round it out. The duo also released a pulsing preview to the album with the single release of “Talk About It” earlier in August, with a unique video to go along with it. While this song may lead you to believe this album is dance-oriented, it surely isn’t. There are energetic surprises, but the album is about reflection, so the somber tone is an overarching theme of the album.
The soft guitar strumming of “How Are You” to combat the forceful piano chords creates an inner conflict, a true testament to the band’s ‘indigo’. Arguably the best song on the 10-track album, entitled “Mark My Words”, is slightly out of place from the rest of the album, and ultimately sounds like a sweet serenade of inner despair. Being only about a minute and a half in length, McLean’s voice is filtered with some kind of EQ, giving off the sound of a voice through an old radio, to match the abrasive chords and feedback that resonate behind her.
All in all, this first crack at audio production for Stack is above adequate, only to improve with the genres of music they tap into in future albums. As this group develops their style, the lyrics will follow, a musical choice that contrasts them at this moment. The group has a series of vignettes to inspire their lyrical creativity, and with some more work to strengthen the backbone of their sound, Roan Yellowthorn is sure to become a beloved duo in the indie pop sphere.
Don’t forget to follow Roan Yellowthorn on her journey via her website and Facebook page. They’ll also be playing a show at the Bitter End in NYC on October 20th in celebration of their new release, Indigo.
Key Tracks: Talk About It, Mark My Words