Rose City Band, the solo project of singer/guitarist Ripley Johnson, has announced new album Earth Trip, out 21 May. On Earth Trip, Johnson colors songs with a country-rock twang and a melancholic, wistful undertone. Themes recur such as pining for summers spent in the company of friends to newer meditations on space, stillness and the splendor of the natural world. Johnson’s laid-back and classically West Coast songs communicate emotions entirely of the moment with both his lyrics, intimate vocal style as well as his elegant elongated guitar lines and astute use of counter-melodies on the pedal steel.
The album’s first single “Lonely Places” captures the sheer joy and freedom of losing oneself in nature, an ode to the wealth of natural beauty the west coast provides, as well as the importance of appreciating wild, open spaces. On the song, Johnson says: “When everything stopped and I was no longer in constant motion, traveling all the time, I had so much time to really think about place. And really experience being in one place for an extended time. I was sort of stuck in a rural area for a while at the end of the summer, basically camping. But I found it so nourishing to be in nature all day, sleeping when it got dark, waking with the sun. Bathing outside. It was lonely and sad, but also joyful and life affirming.”
Recorded primarily at his home in Portland and mixed by Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas, Cave), the songs on Earth Trip make deft use of space through their lean arrangements, guest Barry Walker’s shimmering pedal steel, open and elongated guitar melodies, and upfront and intimate vocals.