Song Premiere: Royal Forest, “John Denver”


Videos by American Songwriter

Who needs a recording studio? Royal Forest tracked their new album in a handful of unorthodox locations, including a single-pop airplane and a WWII submarine. They filled the songs with tape loops and other electronics, too, stretching the boundaries of a familiar genre — Americana — that tends to shy away from that sort of experimentation.

The result is Spillway, a collection of rootsy, sepia-toned tunes that bridge the gap between the familiar and the unexpected.

“We tried to take familiar musical ideas we grew up with — like ‘70s Americana — and bend them into something new,” says bandmate Justin Douglas. “‘John Denver’ is a good example of that. We wrote the song in a cabin near the Frio River, starting with an arpeggiator loop, an acoustic guitar and the verse melody. It was constructed to rely on a simple vocal line and a driving beat; the song doesn’t have a chorus. The offset dual drums came from watching Jim Keltner and Ringo Starr playing together in ‘Concert for Bangladesh.’”


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