There is something aching about Columbus folk newcomer Keating’s debut EP, Absolution.
Whether it comes from frontman Jack Doran’s low, smooth vocals or the sweetly simple piano melodies, the five tracks have a melancholy tinge that fits nicely with the band’s folky alternative rock sound.
Absolution itself is related to amnesty and grace, and on Keating’s Bandcamp, the group claims that this EP was written over a five-year period of learning one of the most difficult lessons: mastering the art of self-forgiveness and working to move past the “anxiety ridden days” and “sleeping all day.”
Aside from a title that reflects the EP’s sentiment, even the music itself feels like mercy; simple instrumentation highlights the subtle lifts and fluid crooning of Doran’s vocals on the title track. It is peaceful and blue, painting a heart-aching watercolor of insecurity and anxiety with lyrics like, “And silence is a trip if you’re not caught up in your shit/Absolve it.”
Later, the band’s rhythm section–Maddy Ciampa on bass guitar and Dan Seibert playing percussion–energizes “Answers,” somehow maintaining a despondent feeling even with springy piano melodies and driving drums.
The EP rotates between passive and electrified after that. “The News” feels final, with a sticky-slow tempo and instruments tinkling sweetly in the background, but “When My Spirit Comes” is fiery and vaguely reminiscent of artists like Billy Joel, adding just a touch of grunge and edge to a jazzy progression.
The final track, “Future,” is the thickest of all. Lo-fi instrumentation and mildly fuzzy bass contrast well with the rest of the otherwise meandering EP, and lyrics such as, “But I can’t let you/Control my dreams/And I can’t let you/Control my seams,” add a bold touch.
Self-improvement is a constant process, and it never looks quite the same. On Absolution, its debut EP and only release thus far, Keating sets a strong tone of determination to grow, using a powerful blend of indie rock and folk music to communicate that it’s important to learn how to heal.
Originally published on In The Record Store on March 7, 2018.