Photo: Aubreigh Brunschwig / Courtesy of Green Light Go

Folk Duo RISO Look Ahead with “New Eyes” (premiere)

Arizona folkies RISO debut “New Eyes”, a forward-moving tune that recalls the likes of Chris Thile and Madison Cunningham.

Despite their shared history of frequenting bluegrass and acoustic music festivals with their family bands growing up, husband-and-wife duo RISO bring a variety of influences and philosophies to the table with their new indie-folk project. Their vibe strays from established duo projects in meshing Rebekah Sandoval Rolland’s love for old-time, “crooked” rhythms and Matt Rolland’s penchant for modern folk-pop along the lines of Sam Beam. Their sound spans decades, and the name “RISO” is vintage—Latin for “smile” or “laughter”. The Arizona artists ultimately thrive in contemporary, complex arrangements that set them shoulder-to-shoulder with Chris Thile and Madison Cunningham.

“New Eyes” was influenced by Matt and Rebekah’s coming up as new parents amid a global pandemic. Rebekah tells PopMatters, “I was seven months pregnant, and the world was in the middle of the third severe wave of the pandemic (Winter 2021). The feeling that things would never be the same was overwhelming. I say that with a bit of sadness, but we were obviously completely excited and happy that we were about to become parents. It was just impossible not to reflect on the rate at which our lives and surroundings were changing. In a way, it grounded us to know that we were about to embark on this incredibly new and challenging period of parenthood together. It felt like that would be a constant in the midst of everything else that was happening, and that would happen. That was really beautiful and comforting at the time and still is.”

The sweetly reflective single is a new cut from RISO’s debut album, also titled New Eyes. Sharing a name with the LP, the tune is a forward-moving folk number that feels representative of the steady, progressive optimism that the duo encapsulates. Rebekah’s sterling vocals ground the song betwixt a mellow instrumental tempest—Arthur Vint drives a commanding percussion, upright bass from Thoger Lund, and acoustic and electric guitars courtesy of the Rollands.

RISO’s New Eyes releases on 15th July. The single releases on 14th June.