(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #379: Roo Panes

By on Thursday, 11th February 2016 at 11:00 am

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Dorset folk-pop singer/songwriter Roo Panes is set to release his second album, titled ‘Paperweights’, at the beginning of next month, just before he heads across the pond to Texas for an appearance at SXSW 2016.  Editor Mary recently featured the video for his newest track ‘Where I Want to Go’ right back here, and the song’s deep bass groove, perfectly matched by the reverberant depth of Panes’ singing voice, inspired us to take a deeper look into his catalogue.

Panes’ first LP, 2014’s ‘Little Giant’ was a bit more traditional than what we’ve heard so far from ‘Paperweights’, employing layered vocals, bowed strings and foundational piano figures under Panes’ rhythmically plucked acoustic guitar. One of the album’s most dynamically expansive arrangements is found in its title track, where the anticipatory bass line and drum pattern build strong dramatic tension under Panes’ exquisitely restrained vocals.


In the press release for ‘Paperweights’, Panes presents the new songs as a very genuine sort of gift: “Here’s a bit of me, to help you understand a bit of you.”  The songwriting quality he most prides himself upon is his heartfelt authenticity, which leads him to write “material that truly connects on an emotional level.” His broadly soaring instrumental arrangements are indeed the kind that make your heart swell, even while his richly-textured vocals and redolent poetic imagery slowly seduce your imagination.

SXSW-featured track ‘The Original’ has a hint of Bon Iver in its airy introduction, but Panes doesn’t succumb to the incoherent falsetto of Justin Vernon, instead allowing his warm, rich mid-range voice to blend with the round tones of the acoustic guitar. Like many a songwriter before him, Panes explores the feminine mystique in his lyrics, reverently singing “behind that painted lady, there’s a masterpiece” in the song’s first verse and in the second, “when the sun descends, she’ll be the swan song silhouette”. He gives the vague impression that this might be a song about lost love, but it’s the kind you would expect from an older man about a woman far in his past, perhaps the one who got away. If Panes’ velvety vocal timbre seems incongruous to his relative youth, the subtle wisdom in his poetry certainly contributes to the illusion.


Roo Panes is scheduled to play three live dates in England at the beginning of March, leading up to the release of ‘Paperweights’ on the 4th of the month. TGTF’s previous coverage of Roo Panes, including a brief preview of his trip to SXSW back in 2013 can be found here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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