I knew nothing about Paper Rival until I was sent a copy of their self-titled EP last fall. The Nashville band–vocalist Jacob Rolleston, bassist Cody McCall, guitarist Brent Coleman, drummer Dillon Napier and guitarist Patrick Damphier–immediately impressed me with their lush pop melodies and alternative rock rhythms. The band has said from the start that they all love the music of such great artists as Bob Dylan and Bruce Cockburn. Rolleston’s spare, gentle delivery seems influenced by the likes of Dylan, but marked by his own reflective style.
June 3, 2008 marks the release of Paper Rival’s first full-length album. Dialog. The album is a mix of guitar driven rock and melodic ballads. The album’s first single, “Cassandra,” is a ballad about inner peace that is reminiscent of the 1960’s folk rock groups that explored life’s deeper questions through their music.”Are We Brothers” changes the pace a little bit with a melodic rocker about family and friendship.
Right out of the box, Paper Rival has shown impressive songwriting ability. One of my favorite songs on Dialog is the guitar and drum driven rocker “Foreign Film Collection.”
“In a moment, I figured out/Why I’m alive/Like the tired boxer who rests his head/on the chest of his opponent. /Like a tired lover./grateful for a moment of peace.” Moody and reflective, who isn’t trying to find the meaning in their life? I think most of us can relate.
“Bluebird” finds the finds the band returning to the melodic feel of “Cassandra.” I found myself returning to this song repeatedly on my iPod. There is something sad, almost haunting about Jacob Rolleston’s vocal delivery that pulls the listener right into the heart of this song. “Swimmer King” is another song that has stayed with me. A solid rocker with poignant lyrics and a catchy guitar hook: “Like going swimming out in a trash heap/You try your best not to swallow the water/You try your best to not go under.”
We all have times when where trying to keep our heads above water.
It’s very rare when a debut album appears without at least one true clunker. Each time I listened to Paper Rival’s Dialog, the more I liked it. While all eleven songs are not instant classics, none are duds. Each song is well crafted and doesn’t get caught up in a sense of self importance. There doesn’t seem to be anything manufactured about the band or the music they produce, and that alone is worth something in this age of mass produced music.
Paper Rival has put together an album that gets better with each listen. The bands mix of musical styles and powerful lyrics will have you thinking, crying and singing along in the space of the album.