Roscoe James Irwin
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Roscoe James Irwin

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Roscoe James Irwin The HUNTING ROAD"

Roscoe James Irwin is better known to fans of The Cat Empire and The Bamboos for his horn-toting antics in both groups, so it's with pleasant surpise that his debut solo effort strips everything back to acoustic guitar and minimal adorments of percussion and banjo. Irwin's creations place him somewhere between Sufjan Stevens and Siomon and Farfunkel, with soft multitracked vocals that so just enough to carry his ina,botious but accomplished songwriting. Artists of the folk-pop ilk sometimes struggle to tajet their songs places, but Irwin manages it; 1000 Nights soars modestly and other cuts delicately howls into focus. Perhaps Irwin takes some obvious shortcusts-anyone can write a good foot-stomping number around a girl's name (Gergian)- but it;s hard not to frogive him the luxury.

Chris Martin

Syndey morning herald. - Sydney Morning Herald

"Roscoe James Irwin"

Roscoe James Irwin will release his solo album, The Hunting Road, in September. I know the name Roscoe James Irwin is one part of The Cat Empire and like the members of The Cat Empire Roscoe James is well know in the Australian music scene for his loud and sometimes boisterous musical compositions, experimenting with different musical genres and instruments. With this in mind I was excited to hear that Irwin had accomplished what so many musos can only dream of, branching off and completing his solo album. Irwin spent time in the Canadian mountains nursing a broken heart and starting what would turn out to be the birth of his new solo album The Hunting Road.

I will be completely honest with you… this album is a grower… I came to this record with a knapsack full of love for the Cat Empire slung over my shoulder and expected to find the same larrikin fun loving tunes that had me screaming “Hello Hello” in my youth. I listened to track after track with a confused look smeared across my face and my hand hovering over the skip button waiting for the big brass lines or the semi reggae tunes of my past. This is a warning for those who are temped to do the same thing please put the knapsack down before pressing play. The Hunting Road is of a totally different calibre of music, it seems that the solitude of the Canadian mountains and the defeat of another relationship allowed Irwin to peal back his usually grandiose style of music.

The album is speckled with sweet pop tunes, simple beats and folk guitar. This is an album about him. It is like Irwin decided to take away all the tinsel off the Christmas tree and show his fans the most honest version of his music. The Hunting Road is an album of the heart, based around loves lost, gained and lost again. This is an album for the ladies, one that will have them sighing at his honesty and gushing at the beauty of his voice.

The first single from this album, 100 nights, has cute country guitar weaved amongst James’ angelic voice and sweet lyrics about endless love and heart felt vows. Irwin is currently touring Australia introducing fans to his new sound. Irwin will next play on the 9th September 2011 at The Promethean in Adelaide. The album The Hunting Road will officially be released on September 5th 2011. This is an album for the broken hearted and those who are trying and sometimes failing at love. If this sounds you, grab a hold of The Hunting Road as soon as you can.
- BarkOutLoud.


It’s always nice when you read someone’s CV and attempt to pigeonhole them based on their album cover and label, but then be pleasantly surprised by what music they actually have to offer. Melbourne artist Roscoe James Irwin has worked with The Cat Empire and The Bamboos, has an album cover that evokes elements of roots culture and features on a label that is known for impressive reggae releases. So, when you put the disc on, you may expect to hear some funky reggae, loaded with jazzy horns and maybe some screaming blues guitar. What you get is something quite different, but just as impressive. For his debut album The Hunting Road, Roscoe’s gentle voice marries well to the relaxed acoustic guitar that features so prominently throughout the album. Musically, this is a blend of gentle blues and upbeat folk country, somewhere between the likes of Carus and Things Of Stone & Wood.
There’s a catchiness that draws you in straight away, while the subtlety of the album keeps you entertained for the long run. It’s definitely a great accompaniment for these long warm evenings we’re coming into: grab a beer, put it on and watch the sun go down with a smile on your face!


ROSCOE JAMES IRWIN kinda pulls a Bon Iver to record his philosophical debut solo record, The Hunting Road, writes NICK ARGYRIOU.

Dude has heart broken so heads to the woods and writes an album. Sure, we’ve heard that old chestnut throughout the ages, and most recently with our modern day folk chief Messr J Vernon, who almost exclusively owns the rights to this scenario nowdays- but this Roscoe James Irwin parable is different. For starters, Irwin never intended to write anything and was based in the Canadian Mountains in a small town called Nelson. Sonically he taps an altered aesthetic from For Emma, Forever Age. Irwin also seems to have got himself out of the cabin more than Vernon; he ate less deer and wolfed more whiskey too, it seems, making very good friends with the creature (an old Irish term for getting on the piss).

“Yeah” he chuckles, “I kept to myself for a while, not being in a very good place so there was a lot of sitting around and drinking whisky and playing guitar – I know it’s a cliché but it was really like that.” A hardened jazz and commercial trumpeter with artists as diverse as Harry Connick Jr, Paul Kelly, Belle and Sebastian, Washington, Brian May, Rodger Taylor (Queen), Carl Cox and James Morrison, Irwin has also been co-writer, arranger and producer for The Cat Empire, Lanu, Felix Riebl, and The Bamboos. So the score is on the board as far as that side of the equation goes, but The Hunting Road is inadvertently the man’s first – up solo effort – born from the most emotive year of his life.

“I was in Los Angeles and had about three weeks before the nest Cat Empire tour started in the States, so I headed up to the Rockies [Rocky Mountains] and rented this house just to escape…with no intention of writing a record”. Irwin informs. It didn’t take long before things changed. One day in fact. I mean what else was a dejected songwriter going to do for three weeks on his lonesome with whisky as his only friend? “I ended up buying a really crappy nylon acoustic guitar the first day I was there,” he laughs,” and wrote pretty much the whole record in that time.”

As it happens, Irwin was roughly seven or eight tracks into another record with The Hunting Road producer John Castle (Washington/The Bamboos), but chose to scrap the venture and run with the more honest project at the time. “I was initially making a harder-edged modern pop album and then ended up making this intimate folk-sounding record in the ends which was quite sentimental,” he explains. The Hunting Road evokes all manner if ’60s pop, folk and psychedelia. The sounds of Peter Paul and Mary, Nick Drake, The Autumn Defense and the tortured strains of melody from Elliott Smith can be heard murmuring through Irwin’s melancholy, yet spirited album.

“Nick Drake is a massive artist for me with his records being beautiful in their own way. Just the arrangements and orchestration makes him a seminal artist for songwriters, and then the old school ‘60s stuff of Simon and Garfunkel and even The Zombies [creep in] for me, I mean you can’t shake your influences, can you?” attests Irwin. The efficacious results of The Hunting Road are due to the landscape in which the songs were scripted. With its glacial, rugged texture, it’s clear that Irwin has successfully submerged himself in this harsh domain to document his headspace.

“Songs take on that woodland, sense of wilderness, lament and intimacy. Others are vast, open-sounding tracks to represent where I was, being right on the lake surrounded by mountains,” alerts Irwin. Yet what should have been the quintessential break-up record, evolved into something unexpectedly life affirming. “What started as a depressing time quickly turned into a really beautiful time – I mean I should be recalling this sad melancholy period in my head but I actually remember it very positively,” he says.
- INPRESS MAGAZINE- issue 1188

"Roscoe James Irwin"

The experience of heartbreak for most of us usually results in sobbing into empty bottles of vodka (not speaking from personal experience, of course). But for Roscoe James Irwin it means producing a drastically different album of acoustic melodies, and a few weeks in British Columbia.

"It was more cathartic than anything else, I was actually in the middle of making a totally different solo record at the time, something that was much more rocky," he explains. "It's not what people will be expecting from me, having seen me play with The Cat Empire. Those songs are much more up-beat and powerful. This is a record that came out really honestly, and I went to British Columbia to escape for a few weeks to write."

Irwin has also been influenced by experiences touring overseas, having recently accompanied Belle & Sebastian, and also spent time working with Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen. "I expected them to be these ultra-cool rock stars, but Brian especially, it was like hanging out with your uncle. He wasn't buried in his room, he seemed to really thrive on being out there, and working with new musicians. That was really inspiring"

So how does someone become a stand out in a city as large and diverse as Melbourne, and get these kinds of opportunities? "There's a lot going on in Melbourne, a lot more live music, but the city has a really supportive music industry. As a teenager though, I was lucky to spend a lot of time with friends and this group of guys that group ended up becoming The Cat Empire. We all met in high school, and we had a mentor named Steve Sedergreen who hand picked us from around the place, and got us gigs we would never have gotten as sixteen year olds."

Preparing to visit Adelaide as part of his upcoming tour, Irwin comments how "a lot of people think I'm from Adelaide originally because I've spent so much time there." Probably not something a native Melbournian would appreciate I imagine, however, he adds fondly "I love coming over, I've got loads of friends over there, and I'm more confident about getting a crowd in Adelaide probably, than any other city."

Roscoe James Irwin will launch new album 'The Hunting Road' at The Promethean on Fri 9 Sep.
- DB Magazine Adelaide, issue 527

"Roscoe James Irwin - The Hunting Road (2011 LP)"

Roscoe James Irwin, an immensely talented artist who has an exceptional reputation as having been an arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist for a number vast number of Australian musicians such as The Cat Empire, The Bamboos, Felix Riebl and Paul Kelly has ventured out on his own and delivered his debut solo album, The Hunting Road. Written in the Canadian mountains during 2009 after a breakup, the album emanates honesty and simply feels like a cold, winter album.
The Hunting Road is a solid offering of ten songs that marry twisting vocal harmonies and catchy, upbeat rhythms with a lingering sense of folk melancholy to create a sound that seems reminiscent of Elliott Smith yet entirely Irwin’s own. The first single from the album, "1000 Nights" is a brilliant piece of songwriting. Beginning with only acoustic guitar and vocals, the song’s texture is slowly layered before building to the pounding, crashing crescendo during the last minute of the piece.
I find some songs on The Hunting Road surprising in that they catch you off-guard. That is, they begin on a soft, laid-back note but often suddenly shift moods and an entire backing band drops in, lending an interesting and contrasting feel to the songs (see "Once Upon a Time...").
Highlights from The Hunting Road include "1000 Nights", "Picking Apples", "Once Upon a Time..." and "Pass the Time". I would recommend this album for fans of Sufjan Stevens and Elliott Smith.
All in all, an excellent debut from an artist who rightly deserves to be thrust into the consciousness of contemporary Australian music.
Review Score: 8/10
- The AU Review


'The Hunting Road' (Vitamin) 2011 - Debut Album
Roscoe James Irwin -



An artist like Roscoe James Irwin could only ever have come from the city of Melbourne. In a place that is crammed full of musicians working across all kinds of genres, Irwin has cemented his place as a kind of musical mastermind. From his involvement with seminal Australian bands The Cat Empire and The Bamboos, to his highly ambitious compositions and arrangements that have been performed by countless big bands and orchestras.

Considering his iconic status as a bandleader and large-scale composer, Irwin’s debut solo record, The Hunting Road, might then come as something of a shock. There is no stabbing brass, there are no sweeping strings, no jungle percussion breaks. It seems that Irwin, whose musical palette is colourful and wide ranging, has surprised us all with a record that is simple, thoughtful, and beautiful.

Having suffered a clean break of heart in 2009, Roscoe retreated to the Canadian mountains, rented a house on the lake and made friends with the creature and a cheap nylon string guitar. After three weeks of late autumn cold, another Yankees world series and many sing-alongs with the local folk and country misfits, Roscoe returned with a pocket full of songs, and soon after recorded The Hunting Road with producer John Castle (The Bamboos, Washington) at The Shed studio in Melbourne.

What is unique about this record is the way that Irwin has been able to focus his extremely colourful musical imagination into a bunch of deceptively simple folksy pop songs. The music appears at first familiar to us, warm and well-worn sounds – the tapping of feet on wooden floorboards, tasteful country fingerpicking and lo-fi drums – but it soon becomes clear that this music has a deeper layer to it, a harmonic complexity and dynamic scope that lies half-hidden behind its whisky-and-dust façade. Occasionally Irwin’s full, unrestrained extravagance shines through brightly, whipping the music into joyful hurricanes, but it is always a well-controlled process. Irwin might swing our heads up into the clouds, but he keeps our feet planted firmly on the ground, in old leather boots.

Irwin’s lyrical storytelling is also strikingly original. Equal parts Sundance Kid and Heartbreak Kid, he is as likely to take us on a darkly surreal journey through densely wooded hills as he is to leave us misty-eyed and sighing at the end of the pier. At its core this record seems to be about the conflict between our need to be loved and our need to be alone, the tension between the loving friend and the wild vagabond.

However, Roscoe James Irwin, whose bio on his Facebook page describes him as “Indie Pop’s suscpiciously energetic Mr. Nice Guy”, does not seem like he wants to leave us in a pensive mood for very long. More often than not, his songs reach a point of combustion, exploding into soaring, joyful harmonies. It’s almost as if he’s saying: ‘Well, I’ve told you my story, now I just want to wail.’ And wail he does, shifting gears beautifully into a powerful upper register. It is in these moments that we realise we are not just listening to another folksy troubadour or broken-hearted warbler. This is one of Melbourne’s most gifted and diverse artists baring his soul, and, more importantly, his imagination.

- Harry James Angus -