Brian Michael Roff – In the Analog Woods EP

Brian Michael Roff
In the Analog Woods EP

It’s refreshing, halfway through the first decade of the 2000s, to know that computers, electronics, and a love of the digital age have not completely overcome our sensibilities. Rebelling almost without trying, there’s always been a slate of folk artists who approach music the way it’s been done for hundreds of years: with simple instruments and voice. We’ve heard so much rock – plugged in and loud – and experimental electronic noise that to go back to albums such as Brian Michael Roff’s In the Analog Woods seems quaint.

It’s almost like you’re in those analog woods with Roff, sitting across from a camp fire while he plays you his tunes. Roff is a subtle songwriter, willing to embrace simplicity for sincerity’s sake. On this EP, Roff set himself rules some basic rules: use only his 4-track and use only banjo, guitar, accordion, and vocals. The result is quiet and light folk-influenced songs.

The banjo lends a kind of down-home sensibility to the simple “The Never-ending Cause of Everything,” as does the very simple accordion playing. Better is his quiet singer/songwriter numbers, like the softly sweet “Emergency” and the heartfelt “The New Me,” which adds Roff’s own backing vocals as one of his four tracks. Roff’s voice breaks a little on “Rocks and Minerals,” probably the best track and the one that shows off his songwriting abilities to its fullest. The accordion is a better accompaniment on “In and Of Itself,” and banjo is a pretty backing to the acoustic guitar of “Make it a Dime.”

Roff is the kind of singer/songwriter who embraces the past, and you can hear long decades of singer/songwriters that came before him in these songs. There’s little new ground to be broken in the genre, but that doesn’t take the welcome sensibility out of these six tracks. In the Analog Woods is a welcome album, quiet and simple and pleasantly analog, almost the anti-2005 album. Try turning this one up loud.