The Roseline

Three years ago, Kansas native Colin Pepper Halliburton unwrapped an acoustic guitar for his 21st birthday. Disillusioned with art school, Halliburton dropped out and started writing music. Back in Lawrence, he and three friends began calling themselves the Roseline and gradually whittled a heap of musical material into their debut, A Wall Behind It. Loosely evocative of Ryan Adams, the record has an austere style reminiscent of the controlled, percussive vocals of Paul Simon. And like Simon’s songwriting, A Wall Behind It simplifies complex subjects.

Despite rookie recording mistakes — for instance, the band routinely buries Ehren Starks’ beautiful keyboard sequences by placing the piano somewhere in the back corner of the studio — the album comes together on an ambient level, with frequent, soft introspection. Weaving the personal and the political together with a touch of poetic humor redolent of Townes Van Zandt, A Wall Behind It never gets preachy. This straightforward record is distilled and subtle and bears the marks of artists aware of the connection between simplicity and musicality. The only real problem is she’ll read it wrong/The only thing better is to sleep it off/Maybe I’m gone/Or maybe I’m coming home, ponders Halliburton on the finale, “Coming Home.” But it’s hardly a swan song. For the Roseline, it’s a chapter just begun.

Categories: Music