Riun Garner “All We Know and All We Forget” (Independent, 2020)

Canadian filmmaker Riun Garner has been dabbling in music for a long time, recording what he describes as highly personal songs on his phone and not really thinking too much about it. With the help of a few friends, he recorded four of these songs at the tail end of last year; these tracks make up his debut EP, ‘All We Know And All We Forget‘. The first track ‘Fabric‘ opens with some lovely acoustic guitar noodling which has a palpable Nick Drake flavour. This is in fact a theme throughout the record, with consistently lovely fingerstyle guitar from Garner, who manages to makes things sound classic and familiar, yet still fresh.

Fabric‘ builds up from this simple base, adding in a crescendoing piano drone and more guitar layers, creating a wonderful wash of sonic sensations. The EP was recorded on an old reel to reel tape machine, and the analogue richness really comes through and adds some sunny depth to the sound. The tape wobbles lend some tactile authenticity, too.

The vulnerable, personal lyrics are delivered with poise throughout the EP, showing Garner to be accomplished as a songwriter as well as a guitar player. The mix of stripped back acoustic tracks with building layers and self-reflective lyrics bears a strong similarity to Sufjan Stevens’ seminal heartwrencher ‘Carrie and Lowell‘, and this is certainly no bad thing.

There is a lot on offer here, but four tracks almost isn’t enough to get to the heart of Garner as an artist. It feels like there is so much more lurking just below the surface, and whilst a couple of tracks feel like they touch on it briefly, it still feels too brief. Whilst this shouldn’t be seen as too much of a criticism (better to put out a great four-track EP than a full-length album which only has four great tracks), hopefully this release signals the start of something more.

This is a heartfelt and accomplished debut. An album of this quality really would be something special.

Retro Canadian folk hits all the right notes and leaves you wanting more

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